The Junior Red and Gold scored four goals against the Jamshedpur-based side.
East Bengal took on the Tata Football Academy in the semi-final of the 122nd IFA Shield. The Red and Gold had the advantage of playing the game at their home ground, which meant they found some vociferous support. They utilised that to full effect to win 4-1.
The game started brightly, with the home side dominating. The left wing was especially mobile, repeatedly penetrating the TFA defence. In fact, the ball found itself in the away side’s net very soon, but a controversial offside call from the referee saw it being cancelled out. This jolted the TFA lads into action, as they tried to string together some passes.
The momentum soon shifted to the away side. The lack of confidence and communication between the East Bengal defence and goalkeeper led to them almost conceding in the 35th minute, but Lady Luck came to their rescue. The defense sorted itself out and the home side sorted themselves out and ended the half as the better team.
The second 45 started on the same note as the first had ended. The Kolkata side pushed harder, but sold themselves short in the final third every time. TFA capitalized on the lackadaisical football on show, with Hansdah slotting home from a poor back-pass from the Red and Gold defense. The home side were spurred by conceding the goal and kept pressing for an equaliser. However, a poor show from their right winger and some spirited TFA defending kept them at bay for long.
The breakthrough finally came in the 72nd minute as the Red and Gold’s winger slalomed down the left side to smash one into the top corner and make the score even for the home side. The tempo of the game, still remained unaltered as chances were missed at both ends and the score remained the same at the end of normal time.
Extra-time did not see any change from regulation time. TFA managed to play the offside trap extremely well, catching the East Bengal players in an illegal position repeatedly. Fatigue set in for some of the players as well and they had to be given drinks breaks regularly. There were still a few chances for the boys in Red and Gold, but they were shot high and wide and did not pose any real threat to the TFA goalkeeper.
However, the pressure applied finally paid dividends as a stunning through-ball from midfield found Gurumukh Singh in acres of space behind the TFA defence. He expertly lifted the ball over the TFA goalkeeper to make it 2-1 for the home team right at the death. Arguably, the best player of the game, it was fitting for him to score the winner and send the Red and Gold into the final.
TFA shipped in another goal soon after, as Deep Saha found himself in space inside the box and scored the third for East Bengal, to put the tie beyond all doubt. There was time for yet another goal as Jhantu Proshad put in another one, past the tired legs of the TFA youngsters to make it a resounding victory.
East Bengal will now play the winner of the second semi-final between Mohun Bagan and SAIL Burnpur at the final of the IFa Shield on the 19th of July.