East Bengal came from a goal down to take the game against Mohun Bagan into a penalty shooutout in the semi-final of the IFA Shield at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata. The Red and Gold fell behind to a strike from C.S Sabeeth in the first half. The Mariners then conceded just before the end of regulation time as substitute Andrew Barisic crashed a volley to level things up for Trevor Morgan's side.
What transpired next was a test of nerves for both players and fans alike. East Bengal kept their cool and ensured that they would face Prayag United in the final after the shootout ended 4-2 to the Red and Gold.
Coach Morgan, who had lamented that his side had to travel to Vietnam to play their AFC Cup group match against Xuan Thanh Sai Gon, had been of the opinion that the players would understandably be tired. However the players put up a match-winning performance.
"I could not have asked anything more from my boys. The way they played today spoke highly of this team’s character and attitude," he said in the post-match conference.
"It was a brilliant goal. You people also saw how I reacted. Generally, I do not show my emotions. But that strike at the death was amazing. We needed something out of the blue to happen. I hope he scores more goals like this in future," Morgan mentioned.
Morgan also lauded the efforts of the rest of the players. "The boys showed great character and courage. I am proud to coach this bunch. We fought back gallantly. I was praying for the match to not go to the extra-time and beyond because we played too many matches in the last few weeks. But the team responded well to the challenge. We have the final on Wednesday. Let’s see what happens," remarked the Englishman.
Bagan coach Karim Bencharia was understandably sad but praised his players on putting on a good show.
“We lost a semi-final of a tournament. So I am feeling bad. But my team played brilliantly," said the Moroccan in the post-match conference.
East Bengal now face Prayag United SC in the final on Wednesday.
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