Calcutta/ Siliguri: Kingfisher East Bengal flirted with danger before beating qualifiers Kalighat Milan Sangha 4-3 in a Group C match of the 34th Federation Cup, in Siliguri, on Tuesday. The red-and-gold brigade trailed thrice before having the last laugh. The win helped Trevor James Morgan’s men to enter the semi-finals for the sixth year running.
They will now meet Churchill Brothers in the first semi-final on Thursday while holders Salgaocar SC and Dempo SC battle out in the other match a day later.
East Bengal topped the group with seven points while ONGC, who defeated Sporting Clube de Goa 2-1 in the other match played simultaneously at the SSB grounds, ended with six points. Clube were pushed to the third position with four points, while Kalghat MS ended without a point.
Making a haphazard beginning quite contrary to its approach, East Bengal conceded two goals within the first 15 minutes. Kalighat MS made the most of the confusion in the East Bengal defence as Nigerian James Giblee and Tanmoy Kundu found the target in the 11th and 15th minutes respectively. A tentative East Bengal defence, there was no Uga Okpara at the back-four on Tuesday, pressed the panic button every now and then making it easier for Kalighat to attack at will.
East Bengal recovered from the initial setback as promising striker Manandeep Singh scored two quick goals in the 22nd and 28th minutes to restore parity.
Kalighat MS came back greater intensity and regained the lead off a nice solo from striker Christopher Chizoba in the 40th minute. Nigerian Edeh Chidi rescued East Bengal in the injury time as he scored from the spot after being brought down by the Kalighat goalkeeper Souvik Mondal.
Realising that the move to drop the regulars has back-fired, Morgan brought in Okpara and Gurwinder Singh at the heart of the defence and that changed the complexion of the match,
East Bengal created chances galore in the second half but both Chidi and Manandeep failed to convert those. East Bengal found the winner with the help of the second penalty of the match when referee Rahul D’Sa hauled up the Kalighat defender Babu Mondal for an infringement on Chidi inside the box. The Nigerian striker successfully converted from the spot to help last year’s runners-up make it to the last-four stage.
Talking about the ONGC match, David Lalrinmuana scored from a freekick to give the lead early in the first half. Dawson Fernandes converted a penalty two minutes after the hour mark to restore parity. Tarif Ahmed hit the winner a minute from time to ensure the win for ONGC.