Mohun Bagan kept their title defence on track by defeating arch-rivals East Bengal 2-0 to enter the final of the Federation Cup football tournament at the Barabati Stadium here on Sunday.
Darryl Duffy (35th minute) gave Mohun Bagan the lead before half-time of the high voltage semi-final before his fellow striker Balwant Singh (84th minute) produced an acrobatic finish to make the issue safe in the final minutes.
Mohun Bagan, who have won the Federation Cup for a record 14 times, will meet Bengaluru FC (BFC)in the final. This is the 19th time that the Kolkata giants have entered the summit clash of this tournament.
BFC got the better of Aizawl FC in the other semi-final.
East Bengal were off to a bright start and could have taken the lead as early as the eighth minute when Wilis Plaza failed to tap home from close range after Mohammed Rafique had found him inside the Mohun Bagan penalty box.
Three minutes later, Rafique saw his header from inside the box being denied by a fine save by Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Debjit Majumder.
There were more bright moments for East Bengal, but they failed to capitalise on them.
In the 16th minute, Rowllin Borges's shot earned a good save from Debjit and seven minutes later Wedson came close to drawing first blood when his shot from distance curled inches over the goal.
For Mohun Bagan, the first real attempt at goal came in the 25th minute when a free-kick by Haiti international Sony Norde was parried away for a corner after Duffy was brought down.
Mohun Bagan gradually started to get a grip on the proceedings and took the lead when Duffy's deft header off a Norde cross bulged the net.
East Bengal dominated possession and shots on goal, but had nothing to flaunt for their prowess.
Mohun Bagan's midfield sat deep in the second half and protected their defence for much of the proceedings, trying to safeguard the slender lead.
The Mohun Bagan defence too became compact and proved impenetrable for the East Bengal duo of Plaza and Wedson.
They attacked the counter and Norde almost came close to doubling the lead when his shot flew inches wide of the goal in the 60th minute.
Three minutes later, Rafique had a golden opportunity to level the scores after a long ball in the box had left the Mohun Bagan defence in tatters.
Rafique, however, failed to shoot the ball home from close range to add to East Bengal's growing list of missed opportunities.
Mohun Bagan had a narrow escape in the 78th minute when Debjit made a reflex save to deny Plaza's header from close range.
The East Bengal players and supporters were left to rue their long list of missed chances when Balwant doubled Mohun Bagan's lead in the 84th minute.
Sehnaj Singh released an accurate through ball into the East Bengal penalty area and Mohun Bagan's Japanese star Yusa Katsumi followed the ball till the rear touch line before producing a pin-point back pass which was met with an acrobatic finish by Balwant.
Mohun Bagan then held on in the final minutes to ensure their passage into the final.
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