East Bengal became the first team to storm into the 129th Durand Cup semi-finals after super-sub Bidyashagar Singh struck a double to help them rally and post a 2-1 win over Bengaluru FC here on Wednesday.
East Bengal topped the group with nine points from three matches and will face the toppers from group D, where Gokulam Kerala lead the table after their 3-0 win against Indian Air Force.
In the third match of the day, FC Goa developmental outfit also remained in the hunt for a semi-final berth from group C, securing a hard-fought 2-1 win over Chennai City FC.
A young, extremely fast Bengaluru FC made things difficult for East Bengal with Ajay Chhetri giving the BFC reserves a 17th minute goal with a stunning goal. Bengaluru FC led the attack in the first half, with occasional cameos from the red and gold.
The scenario changed in the 46th minute when Bidyashagar Singh was brought on as a substitute for Boithang Haokip.
Bidyashagar Singh scored the equaliser in the 59th minute with an assist from Brandon Vanlalremdika, following up with another one in the 74th minute, saving the day for his team. The game-changing heroics were good enough for him to be adjudged the Player of the Match.
Kerala’s Trinidad and Tobago playmaker Marcus Joseph once again did the maximum damage, striking a double (43rd, 87th) while Shibil Muhammed scored in the 56th minute to fashion a 3-0 win over Indian Air Force.
Joseph had struck a hat-trick in their 4-0 win over Indian Super League franchise Chennaiyin FC. A draw against I-League debutants from Manipur, TRAU FC, on August 18 will be enough for the Kerala outfit to seal a semi-final berth.
Meanwhile, FC Goa were level with Real Kashmir FC with six points each, and their result on August 17 will determine the semi-finalists from Group C.
Liston Colaco drew the first blood to give the Goans an eighth minute lead but Mashoor Shereef restored parity in the 16th minute. Nestor Dias struck the winning goal for FC Goa in the 30th minute for their second successive victory. In their opening match, the Goans had defeated defending champions Army Green 1-0.