Armando Sadiku helps Mohun Bagan Super Giant reach the final of the 2023 Durand Cup
In a tactical battle between Juan Ferrando’s Mohun Bagan and Manolo Marquez’s Goa in the semi-final of the 2023 Durand Cup, the Mariners managed to get an edge over the Guars with the help of a second-half screamer from Armando Sadiku.
Juan Ferrando decided to make two changes by resting Armando Sadiku and Manvir Singh in favor of Dimitri Petratos and Asish Rai.
On the flip side, Manolo Marquez also made a couple of changes by introducing Victor Rodriguez in midfield in place of striker Carlos Martinez while Jay Gupta was favored in place of Saviour Gama.
The match got underway with Goa being in possession and making constant attacks towards Mohun Bagan’s box until the 9th minute when Ashique tested Marquez’s side’s defense. However, Odei Onaindia was successful in clearing the ball from a dangerous position.
In the initial 15 minutes, the Gaurs dominated the match while the Mariners were looking for a way to settle their feet in the fixture. Consequently, they finally managed to make their first credible attacking chance in the 16th minute with the help of a cross from Ashique Kuruniyan to Jason Cummings but it was eminently saved by Dheeraj Singh.
After the attack, Mohun Bagan instantly became the dominant side but with a counter-attack built on a poor giveaway from Hugo Boumous, Noah Sadoui managed to break the deadlock in the 23rd minute of the match with a precise shot in the bottom corner to give the Gaurs a 1-0 lead in the semi-final. After the celebrations ended, Anirudh Thapa was booked for his challenge on Rodriguez.
In the 37th minute, Sadaoui got close to scoring the second goal for Goa but the chance was cleared by the Mariners’ defense. However, drama unfolded at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Kirirangan after the hosts were awarded a penalty following a foul on Ashique by Gupta which was deemed to be inside the 18-yard box by the referee.
Cummings stepped up to take the penalty kick and sent Dheeraj the wrong way equalizing for the Mariners and breathing life into the crowd present in Kolkata. Both sides went into the break level pegging and Marquez introduced the pacey Boris Singh in place of the ineffective Brandon Fernandes and the Gaurs started dominating the play in the first few minutes of the second half.
In the first minute of the second half, Sadoui quickly rushed toward the Mariners’ box, looking for a goal but his attempt was caught by Vishal Kaith. Both teams were looking forward to getting a winner but they were also cautious about losing possession. In the 57th minute, MBSG made an attacking change by introducing Sadiku in the place of Boumous.
Goa was dominating the proceedings but super substitute Armando Sadiku’s screamer from outside the box left Dheeraj Singh with no answers in the 61st minute. As the scoreboard read 2-1, Goa also made a couple of attacking changes by introducing Carlos Martinez and Rowlin Borges in the game with Sadoui still trying to find the winner for Goa.
With the lead in hand, Ferrando subbed in Manvir in the place of Cummings in the 70th minute. Borges alongside Sadoui and Rodriguez was trying to make attacks constantly, but Mohun Bagan’s shifted focus from offense to defense was increasing problems for the Gaurs.
As a few more substitutions were made in the match, Mohun Bagan started keeping possession and Goa had to commit more men forward to win the ball by building pressure on the opposition. Consequently, in the 81st minute, Gupta finally got the ball and he rushed towards the Mariners’ keeper box with hopes of a potential equalizer but his shot went wide away from the goal.
Trying to win a header in the 85th minute, Gupta and Brendan Hamill clashed heads together and the game was stopped to check the possibility of any head injury. After a few minutes, the match commenced again as both the players were fine.
Hamill collected a yellow card at the end of the 90th minute and Gupta’s header from the resulting free-kick was well parried away by Kaith who ensured that he wasn’t beaten on the evening after that fiery Sadoui strike in the first half.
Eight minutes were added in the fixture as the injury time and Mohun Bagan tried their best not to lose the ball. Nevertheless, the last attack saw an attempt from Borges for the Gaurs which was also in vain as Kaith saw it going wide off his goal.
Mohun Bagan Super Giant will now face East Bengal who defeated NorthEast United on penalties in the first semi-final. This will be the first Kolkata Derby in the Durand Cup final since 2004 when the Torchbearers lifted the trophy for the last time.