Kolkata, Sep 14 (IANS) Bipin Singh’s strike in the stoppage time made all the difference as Mumbai City FC pipped Mohammedan SC 1-0 in the semifinal to reach the final of the Durand Cup 2022 at the Salt Lake Stadium, here on Wednesday.
A last gasp winner by Bipin (90+1′) proved to be fatal for Andrey Cherynshov’s men who bravely fought until the very end as their Durand Cup campaign came to an end while the Islanders became the first finalists of this season.
Mohammedan SC were the dominant side in the opening stages of the game as they started the game with extreme ferocity, using all areas of the pitch and asserting their aggressiveness from the first minute as the Islanders were struggling to contain them.
The I-League side were successful in keeping Mumbai City FC on the backfoot with their high backline and constant pressing. Skipper Marcus Joseph came close to scoring the opener but defender Rostyn Griffiths was in the right position to make the block as pressure kept mounting on the Islanders.
Des Buckingham’s side were forced into an early change in the 22nd minute after Amey Ranawade pulled his hamstring as Mandar Dessai came on to replace him.
The Islanders first chance of the game came in the 30th minute from a Ahmed Jahouh corner as the Moroccan found Mourtada Fall at the far post but Fall’s shot was blocked by the Mohammedan SC defender.
Mumbai City FC started to find outlets of spaces and gave the Black Panthers a handful of their attacking action but the latter were resolute in their defending and kept them at bay. With continuous back and forth action on the pitch, neither side could break the deadlock before the break.
The former ISL champions found themselves on the attacking front in the second half as Gurkirat Singh linked up with Greg Stewart who then passed it to Lallianzuala Chhangte finding Singh again in the box with the cross but the striker’s header was wide of the target.
In the 54th minute, Greg Stewart took the free-kick from an up close position as he routinely found an unmarked Jahouh in the box but his shot didn’t test the keeper as Mawia made a comfortable save.
Mawia just wouldn’t let his guard down as the custodian pulled a world-class save to deny Greg Stewart from point blank range as he couldn’t find the back of the net after a brilliant build up play with Chhangte.
The attack kept swinging from one end of the pitch to the other as a phenomenal Mohammedan SC free-kick taken by Marcus Joseph hit the side-netting, keeping the scores level. Both sides were showing their tenacity, with neither one backing down at any given moment as the game continued to take a compact shape.
In the 76th minute, the Mumbai side found another chance through Noguera as he made his way among the defenders to find Chhangte who feinted to the left and took a shot but it went way above the bar. The duo kept interlocking with each other in the next minutes but couldn’t make any difference in the scoreline.
The Islanders finally found the breakthrough in the 90th minute after Greg Stewart beat the Mohammedan SC high line through a splitting lob pass to Chhangte on the right flank who then set it up for Bipin Singh as the left-winger made a simple tap-in to put his side through.
The Des Buckingham-led side have reached the finals of their maiden Durand Cup campaign and will meet the winner of Bengaluru FC vs Hyderabad FC in the finals of the Durand Cup 2022.