East Bengal strike late to trump Goa to the Final

East Bengal qualified as the first club to enter the Final of the inaugural Hero Super Cup after registering a hard-fought 1-0 victory over FC Goa at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Monday. A lone goal from Omegbemi Dudu in the 78th minute was enough to separate the two sides, in what proved to be a game of the highest intensity.

The first half started off with much of the action being played out in midfield. East Bengal created the first real chance of the game in the 19th minute when Katsumi Yusa earned himself a yard of space down the left wing. The Japanese winger’s cutback found Mahmoud Al Amna free in space to tap the ball home, but the latter was unable to make a suitable contact.

Only minutes later, Amna was in the thick of action again, when his headed flick put Dudu through on goal, but the Nigerian’s shot was saved by Goa custodian Laxmikant Kattimani. In the 33rd minute, an error of judgement by the Gaurs defence led to Yusa finding himself one-on-one with Kattimani, but his curled effort was well saved by the keeper.

However, the best chance of the half came Goa’s way in injury-time. Ferran Corominas picked the ball up 30 yards from goal and brilliantly deceived two players before tearing through the Bengal box. His shot beat their custodian Ubaid CK in goal, but defender Lalram Chullova was on hand to clear the ball away and ensure the first half ended 0-0.

The first real chance of the second period came East Bengal’s way in the 55th minute when Cavin Lobo cut through the left wing and delivered a dangerous ball for Dudu, but the latter failed to convert. As the game entered its final quarter, Corominas almost gave Goa the lead through a brilliant free-kick from just outside the box, but it, unfortunately, struck the far post and went out of play, much to their dismay.

The Red and Gold brigade finally managed to break the deadlock in the 78th minute, as the influential Yusa found himself in space down the flanks and delivered an inch-perfect cross inside the box. Dudu broke Goa’s offside trap before calmly slotting the ball home. Things went from bad to worse for Goa as captain Edu Bedia received his marching orders for a second bookable offence, minutes later.

The 10-men of Goa did have one final attempt to equalise in injury-time when Manvir Singh just had Ubaid to beat inside the box, but the young forward could not keep his composure and shot the ball wide. That chance proved to be the last piece of action as East Bengal deservedly booked their spot in the Final, with Goa bowing out of the competition.

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