Despite the heroics of FC Goa goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani , Dudu Omegbemi struck the match’s only goal as East Bengal recorded a 1-0 win over FC Goa to make the final of the inaugural Super Cup, on Monday.
After a goalless first half, Nigerian striker Dudu broke the deadlock in 78th minute at the Kalinga Stadium.
East Bengal now awaits the winners of the second semi-final between Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC.
The Kolkata side’s coach Khalid Jamil went in with a 4-5-1 combination with Dudu the lone striker upfront and Ugandan Khalid Aucho getting his first start in midfield.
FC Goa’s coach Derick Pereira fielded a 4-4-2 with Manvir Singh partnering Coro in attack.
It was a scrappy first-half which ended goalless.
East Bengal had the better chances with Syrian midfielder Mahmoud Al Amna missing the first real chance in the 19th minute, when he failed to tap in a cross from inside the box by Japanese midfielder Katsumi Yusa.
Dudu broke free from an Al Amna flicked header a minute later but with just the Goa keeper Kattimani to beat, hit straight at him.
Katsumi then missed two gilt-edged chances between the 33rd and 35th minutes and Goa got their best chance through Coro in added time, when his solo run found him in front of East Bengal goalie Ubaid, but he could not convert.
The half was highlighted by as many as four bookings, equally shared by both sides. Seriton and Edu Bedia went into referee Santhosh Bhaskaran’s book for Goa while Cavin Lobo and Gurwinder received yellow cards for East Bengal.
East Bengal continued to press hard for a goal in the second half and Dudu and Katsumi again missed at least three golden opportunities to score between them, the Nigerian being the more profligate.
The deadlock was finally broken when another quality cross from the left flank by Katsumi found Dudu who tapped in past Kattimani.
While Samad Ali Mallik became the third East Bengal player to be booked, FC Goa captain Eduardo Bedia picked up his second yellow of the game for a lunge at substitute Kromah, who had come in for Dudu and Goa had to finish the game with 10-men on the field.
After the win, East Bengal coach Khalid Jamil admitted that he was a bit worried about his team not being able to “capitalise on the early chances in the match.”
“I was very worried about this match. FC Goa had five players suspended and I was very much hoping that we convert early. We had our chances but weren’t able to put it in,” he said. “But we won it and it’s a nice feeling to make it to the final,” said Jamil.
“I will not go into predictions about the second semi-final. We will be ready to face whoever wins it tomorrow,” he smiled.
The East Bengal coach also singled out goalscorer Dudu for making a substantial contribution in the match.
“I had mentioned that Dudu is a mature player. He is aware of his responsibilities. He worked hard and focused on the task and eventually got his reward. I hope he will be ready for the final,” added Jamil.
“I think we did quite well to contain them. We played to win. East Bengal played with five foreign players and their Indian players are quality stuff. My players showed a lot of character and I am proud of them,” maintained FC Goa coach Derrick Periera.
“It was a good match for us. But it’s unfortunate we lost,” said FC Goa Goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani who was declared the Hero of the Match.