The Golden Eagles’ Naveen Mendes and Mario Mascarenhas failed to convert their spot-kicks.
Sporting Clube de Goa sealed a berth in the final as they beat defending champions Dempo Sports Club by a 8-7 margin in a sudden-death penalty shootout in the first semi-final of the AWES Cup 2018 played at Tilak Maidan, Vasco, earlier today. The match was tied 1-1 in regular time.
Dempo were high on confidence after defeating FC Pune City in the last group match, whereas, Sporting had made it to the semi-finals even after losing to ONGC FC in the last group match. Dempo gaffer Samir Naik made only one change to his side as Beevan D’Mello was back in the lineup, while Sporting had five changes, as their coach Mateus Costa brought in Cajetan Fernandes, Clemente Joseph, Gautam Dias Brandon Gomes and Peter Carvalho into the starting XI.
It was an end-to-end affair in the first 45 minutes as Sporting came up with the first attack of the match in the 8th minute, when their skipper Victorino Fernandes cut past two defenders in the box and went for glory, but his shot went just over the crossbar. Dempo replied with a quick attack of their own when Naveen Mendes set up Jessel Carneiro on the wing, who in-turn found Joaquim Abranches in the box, but the striker failed to capitalize on the chance.
Sporting once again broke Dempo’s defence in the 16th minute, as this time Cajetan was in a commanding position to take his side into the lead, but the experienced midfielder failed to keep his shot on target from 10 yards. Two minutes later, Dempo midfielder Desmon Pereira snatched the ball from Cajetan and released it to Jessel who found Beevan in the box, but the striker shot high and wide.
Dempo striker Beevan wasted another great opportunity in the 28th minute, as this time Yogesh Kadam set him up in the box, but like the first opportunity, the forward once again shot wide. At the half hour mark, Dempo coach Naik brought on speedy winger Suraj Hadkonkar to replace the injured Beevan, while Sporting also had an early change as their injured centre-back Clemente made way for Clive Miranda.
Dempo had one last chance with just a few seconds remaining in the first half, as Jessel tried to curl the ball to his teammates in the box, which got deflected and was heading into the goal, but Sporting custodian Melroy Fernandes tipped it over for a corner.
It was just nine minutes into the second half, when Dempo broke the deadlock as Abranches produced a brilliant through-ball to Jessel in the box and his fierce shot gashed Sporting keeper Melroy’s gloves before entering the net.
However, Sporting levelled terms within the next three minutes, as Brandon Gomes’ 40-yarder entered the top corner to make it 1-1 for his side. A few minutes later, Dempo came with another attack as Abranches sent a beautiful cross to Velito Cruz in the box but the midfielder shot missed the target by a whisker.
At the other end, Cajetan’s goalbound free-kick was brilliantly fisted over the crossbar by Dempo custodian Agnelo Gomes. From the resultant corner, Cajetan found Assumption Soares with a perfect corner, but the defender failed to connect from close range.
Dempo also had a chance to take the lead in the 74th minute, when Sporting keeper Melroy’s clearance was intercepted by Suraj at the edge of the box, but his curling shot was saved by the custodian with a dive. However, Sporting should have taken the lead when midfielder Ganesh Thakur fluently cut past some defenders on his way, but his final shot was denied by Dempo keeper Agnelo.
In the last ten minutes, Dempo striker Abranches once again came up with a brilliant pass to Jessel, but this time the wing-back’s shot was blocked by Sporting keeper Melroy. Sporting also had one last chance before the full-time whistle, as Assumption went for glory from distance, only to see it denied by the woodwork.
With both the teams failing the break the deadlock, the match progressed to the penalty shootout where Cajetan, Marcus Mascarenhas, Ganesh, Clive, Brandon, Assumption and Victorino made no mistake from the spot. Whereas, Velito, Suraj, Jessel, Chatur Naik, Abranches and Olan Chandran converted their penalty-kicks for the other side, while Naveen Mendes and Mario Mascarenhas failed to beat the Sporting keeper. Sporting winger Alesh Sawant also missed his spot-kick.