East Bengal continue winning streak, qualify for Durand semis

New Delhi: East Bengal stretched their
winning streak to 18 matches after they defeated Salgaocar
2-1, to qualify for the semifinals of the 123rd Durand Cup
Football Tournament, at the Ambedkar Stadium here on Monday.

Sanju Pradhan struck in the 62nd minute for the red and
gold brigade while Tolgay Ozbey scored the team`s second goal
six minutes later, to lead East Bengal to a come-from-behind
victory, after Yusif Yakubu had put Salgaocar in lead with his
30th minute strike.

After a shaky first half, where they let Yusif Yakubu
unleash a neat header off Rocus Lamare`s corner in the
half-hour mark, East Bengal found their bearings after the
change of ends.

Pradhan scored the equaliser for East Bengal, when he
converted from the spot, after Ozbey was brought down by
Khelemba Metei 16 minutes into the second half.

What followed six minutes later turned out to be the
moment of the match -- Mehtab Hossain, after dribbling past a
couple of Salgaocar midfielders, delivered a splitting through
to Ozbey, and the Australian converted with ease, from what
looked like a difficult position.

While the likes of Tomba Singh, Yakubu and Lamare called
the shots in the first half, the show completely belonged to
Ozbey and Co after the lemon break.

If the experienced Yakubu caused problems for Trevor
Morgan`s boys in the first half, Ozbey, with his speed and
skills, troubled the Goans no end post the break.

Led by Ozbey, East Bengal looked solid upfront; Hossain
and Orgy Penn did their duty with aplomb in the midfield,
often delivering some telling passes to the strikers; while
Uga Okpara marshalled the defence in the best possible manner
he could have.

Sandip Nandy was not at his best and a fumble in the 78th
minute, when the former India goalkeeper left his position to
parry Marcus Mascarenhas`s attempt, nearly scuttled East
Bengal`s plans.

East Bengal, who will meet either Pune FC or Chirag
United in the second semi-final on Thursday, will miss
Mehtab after he received his second yellow card of the
tournament, today.

In the day`s earlier match, JCT beat Garhwal Heroes 2-1,
to qualify for the semi-finals.

JCT`s Nigerian recruit Baoru Keke Ibrahim scored one in
the 16th minute and another in injury time, while Kamal Rawat
found the net for Heroes in the 16th minute.


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