By Bappaditya Paul
This comes on a day its archrival East Bengal was knocked out from the tournament on losing the first semifinal.
Playing today’s (21 August) second semifinal in the evening, Mohun Bagan clinched the match against Real Kashmir FC in extra time.
Hitting the field at Salt Lake Stadium, Mohun Bagan could manage a lead only in the 41st minute. Salvador Martinez netted the goal on a pass from captain Gurjinder Kumar.
This came after Real Kashmir goalie Purba Lachenpa had denied the mariners two near goals in the 13th and 31st minute. Also, the mariners missed three shots in the 26th and 35th minute.
On the other hand, Real Kashmir made only one attack on Mohun Bagan goalpost in the 22nd minute but it did not yield a score. It was the mariners who dominated the first half with an all-round attack.
In the second half of the match, Mohun Bagan boys lost some steam and yet the visiting team could not take advantage of this.
In fact, Mohun Bagan made another close attempt in the 51st minute that went without yielding a goal.
Amidst this Bazie Armand of Real Kashmir saw a yellow card in the 53rd minute due to a rough tackle in the midfield. In a bid to increase the 1:0 lead, Mohun Bagan substituted Romario Jesuraj by Suhair VP in the 68th minute.
Real Kashmir got a free-kick in the 80th minute but failed to score an equaliser. Mohun Bagan goalie Sankar Roy made a good save.
After the 90-minute play, the referee added four minutes additional time.
This turned a boon for Real Kashmir as in the 92nd minute Gnohere Krizo scored for the team changing the scenario abruptly.
At full-time, the scoreboard flashed 1:1, sending the match into 30-minutes of extra time.
Just two minutes into the extra time, Suhair, whom Mohun Bagan had brought in as a substitute in the second half, scored for the team. This restored the mariners lead with the score being 2:1.
Real Kashmir’s Vicky Meitei took a brilliant shot at Mohun Bagan goalpost in the 10th minute but Francisco Morante saved it from near the goal-line equally brilliantly.
Desperate for an equaliser, the visiting team went for a substitution: Ritwik Kumar Das was replaced by Nagen Tamang just before half-time.
Right at the start of the second-half of the extra time, Mohun Bagan substituted N Naorem by Imran Khan.
In the 20th minute, Khan made a brilliant throw and Suhair took a shot only to hit the cross-bar and thus, missing a goal narrowly.
However, in the 22nd minute, Suhair made another attempt and this time managd to reap his second goal of the match.
He sent the ball to Real Kashmir net on a pass from Francisco Munoz. This placed the mariners on a comfortable lead of 3:1.
The visiting team failed to score a goal in the next few minutes and thus, the match ended with Mohun Bagan making a grand entry into the final.
In the final match, which too would be hosted at Salt Lake Stadium at 5 pm on 24 August, the mariners will play Gokulam FCKerala. Needless to say, the mariners are the favourite in the final.