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AFC Cup Quarter-final 2nd Leg: Kolkata's East Bengal into the semis after late goal

Amoy Ghoshal
FEATURED COLUMNIST
2.65K   //    24 Sep 2013, 15:47 IST

East Bengal are through to the semi-finals of the AFC Cup 2013 (FILE Photo)

Semen Padang (Wilson 23) 1-1 East Bengal (Moga 78)  (East Bengal won 2-1 on aggregate)

Semen Padang: Jandia Eka Putra; Hengky Ardiles, David Pagbe, Saepulloh Maulana, Novon Setya (Ricky Ohorella 87) ; Elie Aiboy (Hendra Bayauw 63), Vendry Ronaldo Mofu, Yoo Hyun-Goo, Titus Bonai, Esteban Vizcarra; Edward Junior Wilson (Muhammad Nur Iskandar 48).

East Bengal: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; Naoba Singh, Arnab Mondal, Uga Okpara, Robert Lalthamuana (Baljit Sahni 64); Saumik Dey, Mehtab Hossain; Ryuji Sueoka (James Moga 42) , Lalrindika Ralte, Joaquim Abranches (Gurwinder Singh 83); Edeh Chidi.

A 1-1 draw away at Indonesia’s Semen Padang saw East Bengal progress to the semi-finals of the 2013 AFC Cup as they won the quarter-final tie 2-1 on aggregate.

Edward Junior Wilson gave the hosts an early lead in the second leg to make it 1-1 on aggregate and the Indonesian club looked more likely to score again but substitute James Moga scored his first goal for the Kolkata club late in the second half as East Bengal became the first Indian team to reach the semi-finals since Dempo in 20008

As suggested by Sportskeeda, East Bengal’s Brazilian coach Marcos Falopa started with left back Saumik Dey in central midfield alongside Mehtab Hossain in a 4-2-3-1 system with Robert Lalthamuana at left back. Ryuji Sueoka started in his preferred no.10 role just behind lone striker Edeh Chidi.

Semen Padang coach Jafri Sastra made just one change to the team that started in Kolkata last week as Argentinean Esteban Vizcarra replaced Muhammad Nur Iskandar but experienced central defender Wahyu Wijiastanto remained on the bench despite being back from suspension. Wilson once again started as the lone striker upfront in a 4-1-4-1 formation.

The home side needed an early goal to overturn the 1-0 deficit from the first leg and they could have been in front straight from kickoff. Wilson went past a couple of East Bengal players and played in a cross to the far post from the left flank but skipper Elie Aiboy couldn’t hit the target.

East Bengal started the game very slowly with Saumik taking time to adjust to his new role as he kept giving away possession cheaply and committed a few fouls. The red-and-gold brigade were inviting a lot of pressure but then from almost nothing Chidi found himself behind the Semen Padang backline and was desperately unlucky not to win a penalty.

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It was a long ball from the back that saw Chidi beat the offside trap and go into a one-on-one situation with Semen Padang custodian Jandia Eka Putra. The Nigerian went past Putra and appeared to have been brought down inside the box but the referee didn’t award a penalty and he didn’t book Chidi for a dive too. Had that been a penalty, Putra could have also been sent off so it was a big let off for the Indonesian champions.

That incident brought Chidi to life as he started using his physical strength and was holding up the ball very well. But it was Semen Padang who had the first real effort on goal as Titus Bonai’s near post flick on from a Aiboy corner had to be saved by Gurpreet Sandhu.

Wilson was also starting to have an effect on the game and scored midway through the first half thanks to a howler from Gurpreet. A poor goalkick from the youngster went straight to Wilson and the Liberian slotted past the East Bengal custodian with a powerful finish to net his 10th goal of this year’s AFC Cup.

However, just a few minutes after the goal Wilson twisted his ankle while going for a challenge. It looked painful but the Liberian carried on. At the other end, East Bengal suffered a blow close to the halftime break as Sueoka had to be substituted due to an injury after coming off worse following a collision with Putra.

The Japanese was replaced by Moga as East Bengal switched to a 4-4-2 and Chidi finally got East Bengal’s first shot on target in stoppage time but it was straight at Putra. He tried his luck again a few minutes later but it was narrowly wide.

Just a few minutes after the restart, East Bengal received a massive boost as Wilson just couldn’t handle the pain on his ankle any further and was replaced by Iksandar. Despite Wilson’s withdrawal, the hosts kept dominating possession and had more control in midfield as East Bengal were only playing four in the middle of the park.

East Bengal were allowing Semen Padang too much time and space to take shots from outside the box but the home team’s shooting was poor. Captain Aiboy though went close after cutting in from the left flank.

Falopa made a positive change after the hour mark as he brought on the attack-minded Baljit Sahni in place of Robert which saw Saumik drop back to his natural left back role while Lalrindika Ralte slotted alongside Mehtab in central midfield.

That change didn’t seem to have any effect though as Semen Padang continued to dominate proceedings and looked like the only team that would score. Gurpreet had to make a save to deny Vendry Mofu who was clean through on goal and Iksander also went close as the pressure on the East Bengal goal started to mount.

Much like the first leg Chidi and Moga were playing like strangers and were not making any effort to help the team when they didn’t have the ball.

However 12 minutes from the 90, East Bengal equalised from a counter attack as Moga headed home Sahni’s well-measured far post cross. It was a brilliant header and gave East Bengal complete control of the tie due to the away goals rule as Falopa’s substitutions proved to be spot on.

Semen Padang threw everything at East Bengal in the closing stages but it was the Indian side who could have gone and won the second leg too had they shown more composure in the counter attacks.

The Kolkata club are still unbeaten in the competition and are likely to face holders Kuwait SC in the semi-finals as they defeated Maldives’ New Radiant 7-2 away in the first leg. East Bengal will be the away side in the semi-final first leg, scheduled for October 1st while the return leg will be in Kolkata on October 22nd.

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Amoy Ghoshal
FEATURED COLUMNIST
A passionate football follower, Amoy Ghoshal has been covering Indian football for almost six years now having worked at Goal.com and Hindustan Times previously..
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