It was never going to be easy for Mohammedan Sporting against Churchill Brothers but a needless early sending-off ensured the Goans a more comfortable route to their sixth consecutive Durand Cup semi-final, at the Ambedkar Stadium on Monday.Beto gave Churchill a ninth-minute lead from the spot as Mohammed Adeola Hassan brought down Bineesh Balan in the box. Oddly, left-back Sheikh Azeem shoved and abused referee A Rowan which prompted the official to show him the red card.
Chances were limited in the first half with the ball spending a majority of the time in midfield. After the break, however, it was Mohammedan Sporting who had Churchill Brothers on the backfoot. Defensively, they contained the Salcette team with playmaker Beto being doggedly marked by Gautam Kujur.
Their best chance to pull level came in the 65th-minute when South Korean attacking midfielder Han Wook latched on to a poor pass from Churchill's centre-back Gouramangi Singh and it took all of Antun Kovacic's sliding 6' 3" frame to prevent an equaliser after Wook had beaten custodian Felix d'Souza. It fell to Lalrindika Ralte, who had come on for Xavier Kumar, to put the game beyond Mohammedan. Antchouet's cross from the right fell to Beto who flicked the ball on the path of Ralte and the left midfielder converted coolly.
Pune in semis
Pune FC rallied back after being a goal down to beat Air India 2-1 and enter the semi-finals. Ex-Pune man Sandesh Gadkari gave Air India the lead heading in Napoleon Singh's corner-kick at the far-post in the 9th-minute.
A fluid counterattack in the 77th-minute brought Pune level with Fernandez's diagonal ground pass into the box being converted by Shivalkar who chipped it over keeper Pawan Kumar.
Eight minutes later, Rollingson Hungyo squeezed a low left-footer from the edge of the box through a mass of bodies after Douhou Pierre's corner-kick was played short into the box by Fernandez.