A first goal in the first minute by Jordan Rhys Elsey and an own goal by Bouba Aminou helped East Bengal overcome a resilient Gokulam Kerala FC 2-1 in the second quarterfinal of the 2023 Durand Cup played at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Friday.

Bouba Aminou scored for Gokulam Kerala. East Bengal will face North East United in the semifinals on August 29.

East Bengal Head Coach Carles Cuadrat named an unchanged side from the last group match while Gokulam Kerala Head Coach Domingo Oramas Cabrera made eight changes from the last group match, bringing in all his regular starters. Nidhin Krishna, Bouba Aminou and Basit Ahmed Bhat retained their places in the lineup.

East Bengal stunned Gokulam Kerala in the very minute of the game by taking the lead. A training ground routine corner kick by Borja Herrara was headed back into the danger area by Javier Siverio from the edge of the box which was brilliantly flicked into the goal by Australian defender Jordan Rhys Elsey.

The Malabarians responded well to the early setback, looking dangerous going forward with East Bengal defending deep and looking to play in transition. The Torch Bearers used the speed of Nandha Kumar and Mahesh Singh in the wings to create chances. They could have doubled their lead through another corner but Saul Crespo’s right footed shot came back off the crossbar. On the other end, Komron Tursunov blasted his volley over the crossbar before Alejandro Sanchez Lopez forced a brilliant save out of East Bengal keeper Prabhsukhan Singh Gill to keep the lead intact for the side from Kolkata in the break.

Upon resumption, it was the Malabarians that showed more intent going forward as they looked for the equalizer. They were controlling the midfield and putting pressure on the East Bengal defence. They found the equalizer in the 57th minute through a header from Bouba Aminou.K. Abhijith’s cross from the left was powerfully met by Bouba, with Prabhsukhan rooted to his spot.

Carles Cuadrat brought in Cleiton Silva to increase the intensity of the attack. He had a half chance to score but his side footed effort was easily saved by Gokulam Kerala keeper Zothanmawia. East Bengal were having much off the ball and put pressure on the Malabarians defence. East Bengal regained their lead in the 77th minute through an own goal. Nishu Kumar’s darting ball was unfortunately deflected into his own net by Bouba Aminou, sending the local crowd into a frenzy.

East Bengal defended well, not allowing the Gokulam attackers any space to create any chances. Edwin Sydney Vanspaul tested the goalkeeper with a long distance attempt in the dying minutes of the second half. Cleiton Silva could have put the finishing touches to the game in the injury time but his header went wide of the target. East Bengal saw off the rest of the match with ease to reach the semifinals.