The Durand Cup seems to be a happy hunting ground for United SC. After winning the previous edition as Chirag United, the Kolkata team stunned I-League and Federation Cup champions Salgaocar to book their semi-final ticket in style at the Ambedkar Stadium on Sunday.
Both sides played a cautious game through the first half but United SC appeared to have smelt blood after the breather.
Shylo Malsawmtlunga came on for James Singh in the 52nd minute and proved to be the gamechanger, repeatedly beating Salgaocar right-back Jaspal Parmar to feed Martins and Yusif Yakubu with crosses.
The deadlock was broken in the 65th minute. Yakubu, an ex-Salgaocar player, headed home Malsawmt-luanga's delivery past goalie Karanjit Singh.
Four minutes later, Malsawmtluanga's corner-kick saw Gouranga Biswas beat his marker Biswajit Saha to glance his header at the first post. Mohammed Rafique's 86th-minute sending off was the only sore point in otherwise flawless evening for United SC.
Shillong Lajong also made it to their maiden semifinal after beating United Sikkim Football Club (USFC) 3-1. USFC lost custodian Basant Singh in the 6th-minute when he brought down Lajong striker Christopher Chizoba just outside the box.
Lajong took a 32nd-minute lead through James Gbilee, who knocked in a rebound from Chizoba's strike. Chizoba netted four minutes later when he turned in a P Lalhlimthara cross from the right. Though USFC pulled one back through Sushil Singh on the brink of half-time, Chizoba’s 83rd minute volley from a move begun by Lalhlimthara won it for Lajong who had Lalramluaha sent-off.