East Bengal nail Dempo in final
Birthday gift for coach Morgan
It was a sweet birthday gift to their coach Trevor Morgan as his wards defied all odds scoring through Arnab Mondal (60th), Manandeep Singh (100th) and Edeh Chidi (109th) for a stunning win under slippery conditions in a rain-hit summit clash.
Handicapped by the absence of the suspended duo of Uga Okpara and Gurwinder Singh, Gaikwad and Mondal took charge of central defence for East Bengal, keeping Dempo at bay.
But Dempo, the I-League champions, bounced back after the break, cashing in some poor defending. Climax Lawrence pounced on a loose ball, blasting a right-footer home in the 51st minute.
However, East Bengal equalised within nine minutes. Youngster Mondal connected a neat header that blazed past Dempo goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury.
With 10 minutes left for the end of regulation time, Dempo coach Armando Colaco bolstered his side’s forward line-up, bringing in their second foreigner Ryuji Sueoka in place of midfielder Clifford Miranda.
East Bengal drew first blood in extra-time, Manandeep latching on to a cross from Lalrindika Ralte in the 100th minute.
Chidi then scored from a counter-attack in the 109th minute as East Bengal opened up a comfortable 3-1 lead with just minutes left.
But Dempo showed good fighting spirit when Mahesh Gawli scored off a brilliant header in the 111th minute. The Goans almost snatched an equaliser in the closing minutes but Cresson Antao failed to reach the ball as East Bengal held on for a superb win.