Northeast United vs. East Bengal, Durand Cup 2023: East Bengal pip over Northeast in penalties after late drama

East Bengal FC defeated Northeast United in the penalties after a late goal from Nandha Kumar to qualify for the Durand Cup 2023 final.

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Koushik Biswas
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East Bengal defeated Northeast United in the penalties after a late goal from Nandha Kumar. At the end of the regulation time, the game was tied by 2-2 and a double miss from Parthiv Gogoi in the penalties saw East Bengal FC go through to the Durand Cup 2023 final.

Northeast United vs. East Bengal | First Half

East Bengal started with Nishu Kumar on the left and Nandha Kumar on the right; as expected from last night's training. Northeast United FC brought back Nestor Albiach and Manvir Singh to strengthen their attack. The red and yellow brigade started the match nervously as an early mistake in the third minute from captain Harmanjot Khabra gave Konsam Phalguni Singh an opportunity to make a run and give a pass to Manvir Singh whose shot went over the bar to give East Bengal relief. But, soon after that, East Bengal found their rhythm as Saul Crespo's long ball could have given Nadha Kumar on the right a chance to provide a cross to Mahesh waiting on the left. But, Nanda could not get the ball as it went for a goal kick.

Zabaco Tome's header gave the Highlanders a lead

In the 16th minute, East Bengal's first shot came from defender Jose Pardo whose long-range shot was saved by Mirsahd. Soon after that, Naorem Mahesh on the left made a beautiful turn to dodge the defenders but could not find anyone in the middle of the box to tap in for a goal. In the 22nd minute, against the run of play, Northeast United scored the first ball as Phalguni Singh provided a delicious cross to defender Zabaco Tome who headed the ball into the nets for the first goal of the match. Another goal in the tournament was led by a corner set piece.

However, East Bengal were not ready to give away that easily as in the 26th minute Mahesh provided a great cross from outside the boot towards Javier Siverio. But the Siverio could not connect with the header. In the next ten minutes, the game went a bit blunt as both teams failed to build up any attack in the middle. Nishu Kumar had a chance to be on target from the left but was saved easily by Mirshad in the 38th minute. The next minute, Mandar provided a cross from left for Siverio but he again failed to get the header in from the middle of the box. The first half ended in Northeast's favour as the results stayed 1-0 after the first 45 minutes.

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Northeast United vs. East Bengal | Second half

East Bengal started the second half with a double change to get back to their previous plan as Borja Herrera and Souvick Chakraborty were introduced replacing Nishu Kumar and Jose Pardo. In the 47th minute, Naorem Mahesh tried his luck with a long-range shot but it went straight into the hands of Mirshad. Meanwhile, Northeast replaced Nestor Albiach with Ibson Melo to bring some fresh legs.

Phalguni Singh doing a backflip after his goal against East Bengal FC | Sportz Point

Phalguni Singh doing a backflip after his goal against East Bengal FC.

In the 53rd minute, Mandar Rao from the left provided a great ball to Naorem Mahesh who sent a cross to Nandha Kumar on the right. However, Nandha could not get the shot in as it was blocked by defenders. But, again, in the 57th minute, Phalguni Singh scored one of the best goals of the tournament to give Northeast United the lead. Phalguni Singh from the right dribbled through defenders to create space for a left-footed shot into the right corner of the box. Mandar Rao saw Phaliguni get in the place to do Messi.

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In the 66th minute, Mahesh had the opportunity to score for East Bengal but he could not get to the ball. Nandha again came with the cross from the right. Soon after that, in a counter-attack, Romain Philippoteaux nearly scored another splendid goal but that went just wide from the post. East Bengal started getting frustrated as a high-boot challenge from Javier Siverio saw him getting a yellow in the 72nd minute.

Naorem Mahesh's shot helped East Bengal make a comeback

Northeast United vs. East Bengal, Durand Cup 2023: East Bengal pip over Northeast in penalties after late drama | Sportz Point

Naorem Mahesh played a great part in East Bengal's comeback in the match.

East Bengal came back in the match with Naorem Mahesh providing the goal in the 77th minute. Saul Crespo gave the pass to Mahesh who was waiting in the middle to shoot. Mahesh's shot took a deflection from Dinesh Singh to get into the goal. Three minutes later, Cleiton Silva nearly got the opportunity to equalise, who nearly caught the defenders by surprise. In the 82nd minute, Siverio had the chance to shoot inside the box but failed to do so.

East Bengal kept Northeast defenders on the toe as Borja's cross from left nearly found Siverio in the box for a tap-in. In the 87th minute, East Bengal got another chance but Nandha's shot was not good enough to beat Mirshad. In the rebound ball, Siverio appealed for a penalty as he was pulled away by Tondonba.

Mandar creates magic at the last minute

Northeast United vs. East Bengal, Durand Cup 2023: East Bengal pip over Northeast in penalties after late drama | Sportz Point

Nandha Kumar after the late goal.

The red and yellow brigade kept on attacking in the added minutes. In the 94th minute, Crespo could not get the shot in the goal from Nandha Kumar's cross. Minutes after, Zabaco Tome was shown a red card for fouling Siverio in the counterattack. East Bengal's long vigil came to an end with Nandha Kumar again doing wonders for his team. In the 96th minute, Crespo's shot was first saved by Mirshad. But the rebound ball went to Cleiton Silva who passed it to Nandha Kumar in the middle of the box. Nandha then did the rest of the job to take the game to the penalties.

Prathiv Gogoi missed the penalty for Northeast United as he hit the bar on the second attempt. East Bengal won by 5-3 in the penalties. This is East Bengal's first Durand Cup final after 2004. East Bengal will face the winner between FC Goa and Mohun Bagan Super Giant.

Indian Football East Bengal Northeast United Fc Durand Cup