East Bengal rode on a late strike from Dudu Omagbemi to defeat FC Goa 1-0 to reach the final of the inaugural edition of the Hero Super Cup football tournament here on Monday.
Nigerian striker Dudu scored the winner in the 78th minute. East Bengal now await the winners of the second semi-final between arch-rivals Mohun Bagan and JSW Bengaluru FC which is to be played on Tuesday.
In the first semi-final, the first-half ended goalless. East Bengal had better chances with Syrian midfielder Mahmoud Al Amna missing the first real chance of the half in the 19th minute but he failed to tap in a cross from inside the box by teammate and Japanese midfielder Katsumi Yusa.
A minute later Dudu broke free from an Al Amna flicked header but with just the goalkeeper and Hero of the Match Laxmikant Kattimani to beat, he hit straight at him.
A lot of the Goan attack came down the right wing through Mandar Rao Dessai but the Goans were unable to find any joy.
Katsumi Yusa then missed two gilt-edged chances in the 33rd and 35th minutes.
FC Goa also had a chance in added time but Ferran Corominas' hit the post from an acute angle after his solo run. Corominas tricked his way into the opposition box and released a left footed effort at goal. However, the goalkeeper got a touch to his shot to keep it out. But the tenacious striker got to the ball and attempted to curl it in from a tight angle from the left but the ball ricocheted back into play off the post.
It was Goa who started slightly better in the second period. Edu Bedia found Corominas with a sublime lobbed pass in the 49th minute. The striker ran on to the ball but his run was cut off well by an East Bengal defender.
East Bengal continued to press hard for a goal in the second half and Dudu and Katsumi again missed golden opportunities to score between them -- the Nigerian being the more profligate. Dudu couldn't get his head on to a superb cross in from the left despite diving forward.
Goa's best chance of the match came in the 59th minute when Edu displayed spectacular vision to find the run of Amey Ranawade. The diminutive full back beat the offside trap and found himself one on one with the goalkeeper who reacted beautifully to make the save from the full back.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 78th minute when another quality cross from the left flank by Katsumi found Dudu who tapped in past Kattimani.
Meanwhile, FC Goa captain Eduardo Bedia was sent off in the second half after receiving his second yellow card of the match.
Afterwards, it was easier for East Bengal to control the game and see off the match.
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."
Meanwhile, FC Goa Coach Derrick Pereira certified that his "players combined well".
( 580 Words)