Mohammedan Sporting Club caused something of an upset with a 2-0 win over SAI East Zone in the second semifinal of the U-13 Youth League at Barasat Stadium.
After a barren first-half Mohammedan SC scored twice through Mohammed Zeedan (42nd minute) and skipper Sujay Budhuk (55th) to set up the final with Minerva Punjab FC on Tuesday at the same venue.
In the earlier rounds, SAI had played an attractive style of football that saw them tipped as favourites to progress and they started the game in a similar style.
SAI dominated possession proceedings in the opening exchanges of the encounter and looked particularly threatening down the flanks, but were let down by the final ball in the area.
Mohammedan SC gradually eased into the game and should have taken the lead in the 23rd minute when a defence-splitting pass by Zeedan found Sujay in the area, but the forward fired his effort straight into the hands of SAI goalkeeper Gopal Hembram.
A few minutes later Mohammedan SC had two near misses from headed attempts – Tapan Soren hit the crossbar with his looping effort, while Aftab Ali went narrowly wide of the target with Gopal completely beaten.
At the other end, Mohammedan SC custodian Sakirul Islam was called into action in the 33rd minute when he produced a fine save to keep out Euzin Topno’s header.
The two sides went into the half-time break, deadlocked at 0-0.
Needing a goal, Mohammedan SC came out all guns blazing in the second half as they attacked by pushing high up. The pressure paid off as the Young Panthers finally broke the deadlock in the 42nd minute. Nabakumar Santra held off a defender on the left flank and floated in a cross to the far post finding Zeedan who converted with a left-footed volley to put Mohammedan SC 1-0 up.
Having taken the lead, Mohammedan SC got a much-needed confidence boost and they increased their pressure up front dominating the game entirely. Their continues pressure yielded another goal in the 55th minute when Sujay slotted from inside the box after Subrata Pramanik played a delightful ball.
SAI upped their efforts towards the closing stages of the second-half and were unfortunate not to pull a goal back in the 59th minute when Mohammed Aziz Islam’s volley went inches wide of Sakirul’s goal.
SAI coach Deepak Boro introduced strikers Subhankar Das and Jigmee Gurung in a bid to get some late equalizers, but it proved too little too late as Mohammedan SC held on to emerge winners.