East Bengal edge Prayag to enter final

East Bengal edge Prayag to enter final

Gow, Paite strike as champions set up title clash with Salgaocar

The red and gold brigade staged a remarkable rally after being a goal down at the Salt Lake Stadium to set up a summit clash with Goa’s Salgaocar at the same venue on Thursday.

Alan Gow and Khan Thang Paite struck for the winners, who conceded an early goal with Prayag’s Snehasish Dutta finding the target in the semifinal outing before a sizeable crowd.

Prayag, who started off well, and matched East Bengal move for move for most part of the match, lost their way after being down to nine men for the last ten minutes with Joshimar da Silva Martins and defence mainstay Deepak Mondal forced to leave the field following double bookings.

The greater part of the second half was played in blinding rain, and a shower of cards, with the referee acting firm to keep the match under control. East Bengal, who won the previous two editions of the Federation Cup, faced a couple of Prayag attacks in the initial minutes before Alan Gow’s shot from inside the box went over. However, Prayag went into the lead in the 16th minute, prompting East Bengal to accelerate the tempo. Tolgay Ozbey set up Baljit Singh Sahni with a perfect pass but the striker failed to put the ball into the vacant net.

Prayag controlled the midfield but East Bengal had more possession and restored parity in the 36th minute through a penalty that was given after Gow was brought down by defender Bello Rassaq. Gow put the easiest of setpieces home.

Both teams built up some moves but the scoreline remained 1-1 at the breather. As time rolled by, both sides went for hard tackles, and Joshimar fouled Soumik Dey nastily to be promptly shown his second yellow card immediately followed by marching orders.

It was the 75th minute and Prayag now had ten men on the ground. They received a further setback five minutes later when Mondal went for a diving tackle which the referee considered his second yellow card offence and showed him the red card.

The double shock rattled Prayag, and within two minutes East Bengal scored the winner with Paite finding the top corner of the net. East Bengal now face a tough task of making it a hat-trick of titles when they face the formidable I-League champions