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Bagan to lock horns with Mahindra in Durand semis

Source: PTI
Last updated on: September 18, 2009 21:30 IST
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Jose Ramirez Barretto continued his fine form in the new season with a double strike to help Mohun Bagan blank JCT 2-0 and set up a semi-final clash with Mahindra United in the 122nd ONGC Durand Cup football tournament.

Barretto, who did not play the season opening IFA Shield in Kolkata early this month due to injury, scored in the fourth and 15th minutes in a pulsating Group II quarter-final league match at the Ambedkar Stadium.

Mohun Bagan, who lost the IFA Shield final 0-2 to Churchill Brothers on September 12, topped Group II with six points from two wins and will take on Mahindra United in the second semi-final on Sunday.

Mahindra beat East Bengal 2-0 in a Group IV quarter-final league match, played earlier in the day.

In a fast paced match, Mohun Bagan dominated the first 30 minutes and pumped in two goals. They also wasted a spot kick taken by Lukram James Singh in the 38th minute after Chidi Edeh was brought down by JCT defender Sarbjeet Singh.

Just as both the sides were settling down, Barretto capitalised on a defensive lapse following a scramble for the ball inside the JCT penalty area to send a right footer past goalkeeper Karanjit Singh.

His next goal in the 15th minute was a gem as the Brazillian made a solo effort from near the centre, got past defender Gurwinder Singh and sent a right footer past an advancing goalkeeper into the net.

Earlier, defending champions Mahindra United rode a double strike from Mohammed Rafi to blank East Bengal 2-0 to reach the semi-final. Rafi struck in the 63rd and 66th minutes to help his side earn a well-deserved win.

With this win, Mahindra collected four points — the same as Lajong FC — but would advance on better goal difference.

The loss added to the cup of woes of East Bengal coach Subhash Bhowmick who has been in the firing line after four successive losses, though his club had made it clear that he would not get the boot.

Mahindra's India right winger Steven Dias had a couple of free-kicks and sent a few curling crosses but could not bulge the East Bengal net before the breather.

East Bengal's national team player Renedy Singh had a curling right footer from just outside the Mahindra box in the 33rd minute but it missed the left post by a few yards.

Three minutes later, Mahindra captain and India midfielder NP Pradeep shot wide from near the top edge of the East Bengal box.

The match came to life after the hour mark with Mahindra pumping in two quick goals, both by Rafi. He first beat East Bengal goalkeeper Arup Debnath in an aerial contest before nodding the ball home off a pinpoint cross from the right by Dias in the 63rd minute.

Three minutes later, Rafi blasted home a low left-footed grounder after a one-on-one with substitute Susanth Mathew inside the East Bengal box.

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