Defending champions East Bengal survived a second-half onslaught from Churchill Brothers to enter the final of the 32nd Federation Cup with a 1-0 win in Cuttack on Wednesday. Striker Tolgay Ozbey's 11th minute goal was the only one in this tie under lights at the Barabati Stadium.
On Thursday, Mohun Bagan play Dempo in the second semi-final. The final is on Saturday.
Ozbey struck with a crisp, low right-footer following up on a long ball from Harmanjot Khabra and making the most of Dharmarajan Ravanan's botching up an extravagant attempt to clear his lines.
Ozbey then missed a chance to put the game beyond Churchill Brothers. Denzel Franco conceded a penalty, felling Ozbey in the 21st minute. Churchill Brothers goalie Lalit Thapa though guessed right, diving to his right to save Ozbey's right-footer. Ozbey also missed scoring on the rebound, his first touch being a shade too long. Franco was shown the red card in the second minute of second-half stoppage time, his kick on Penn Orji fetching the defender a second booking.
Odafa hit the upright and off the rebound, Koko, Churchill's other Nigerian striker, ballooned over. East Bengal were again lucky when Nandy bungled collecting a free-kick.
Robin Singh gave notice with a left-footer in the third minute of first-half added time - the match had 11 minutes of extra time over the two halves - but Churchill Brothers looked the better team after the breather.
Nandy saved twice but in the 77th minute got beaten after diving in front to deny Odafa whose goalbound shot hit Uga Okpara's hand and went out. Lucky that they didn't concede at least one penalty against Chirag United in the last quarter-final group league tie on Saturday, it was Churchill Brothers' turn to be denied this time.