Durand Cup: Mahindra in semis after 2-0 win over East Bengal


New Delhi : East Bengal’s woeful run in the 122nd Durand Cup ended with a 0-2 loss to defending champions Mahindra United in the quarterfinal league stage here Friday. The Mumbai outfit qualified for the semi-finals to stay in contention for their fourth Durand title.

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A brace from Mahindra striker Mohammed Rafi within an interval of three minutes (63rd, 66th) spelled doom for the 16-time champions.

It was an inconsequential match for East Bengal as they were already knocked out of the tournament after a 0-1 loss to newcomers Lajong in the first match and Friday failed again to salvage some pride.

After the loss, East Bengal coach Subhash Bhowmick, who had at times compared himself to Jose Mourinho, walked out with his head bowed down as agitated East Bengal fans shouted for his resignation.

Losses to Tata Football Academy (TFA) colts and Chirag United in the IFA Shield and now the Durand Cup debacle prompted the East Bengal club management to call an emergency meeting to ponder over the team’s future ahead of the I-League that starts next month. It was East Bengal’s fourth consecutive loss in the start of the season, something that has happened rarely in the club’s 99-year old history.

Desperate to end the Durand Cup on a positive note, Bhowmick made six changes to the starting eleven that lost to Lajong. But none worked.

Mahindra, however, put up a much-improved performance as compared to their barren draw against Lajong.

East Bengal started off well and were in complete control in the first 15 minutes but as the game progressed the Kolkata outfit lost pace and control. Their Argentine recruit Sebastian Omar Monesterolo was listless upfront along with his partner Subhash Singh.

The only noticeable performance came from newly appointed captain Syed Rahim Nabi, who was effective in his role of a wing-back, after spending the first match on the bench.

After a goalless first half, Mahindra came back strongly and India international Steven Dias with his precise crosses kept both Rafi and Sushil Kumar busy.

Rafi broke the deadlock after he headed in from Dias’ cross in the 63rd minute and three minutes later doubled the lead after he slotted in from a rebound off Sushant Matthew’s shot to stun the East Bengal bench.