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Xmas comes early for Bagan

india Updated: Dec 25, 2006 13:05 IST
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On the eve of the Peerless 28th Federation Cup quarterfinal, Churchill Brothers coach Karim Bencherifa was hoping his team would be noticed. They did that and more, stretching Mohun Bagan to extra-time and tiebreaker — the tournament's first — at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Sunday evening. But they could not finish off the game and it was experience that took Mohun Bagan to the semifinals.

With the match finishing 2-2 after 90 minutes and extra-time, Mohun Bagan's superior conversion from the spot put the match beyond the visitors. In the end it was perhaps nerves that got into the young Churchill Brothers side which missed three penalties to go down 1-3. George Ekeh was the only player who converted his penalty while Thokchom Naoba Singh, Robert Lalthalamvana and Zenith Masmangva missed from the spot. Mohun Bagan made light of Jose Ramirez Barreto's miss to score through Dipendu Biswas, Fabio Vidal and PC Lalawmpuiya.

Mohun Bagan showed early promise with some crisp movements down the flanks and Barreto forcing Vinay into a save as early as the fourth minute with a glancing header from Dharamjit's cross.

But the pressure eased off lasted some minutes before Churchill Brothers began to press them with long balls. Okolei Odafa came close to giving Churchill the lead, going past Eduardo Coelho on the left. But his shot took a deflection and into the side-netting in the ninth minute.

The green-and-maroons were clearly under pressure, forced to defend deep into their own half to counter Churchill's two Africans. Their speed and strength forced the three-man Mohun Bagan defence into committing mistakes.

Just when it looked Churchill would run away with the game, came Barreto's goal.

The Brazilian evaded Vinu Jose's challenge and took a half-volley from the edge of the box which slided to the far corner of the net in the 26th minute to give Mohun Bagan the lead against the run of play. This was Barreto's first goal in six outings.

RESULT Mohun Bagan 5 (2) Churchill Brothers 3 (2) Semifinal line-up Mahindra Utd v Sporting Clube Goa Mohun Bagan vs Dempo