Durand Cup: East Bengal Qualify For Knockouts With 1-0 Win Over Punjab FC
Spain's Javier Siverio produced the solitary goal as East Bengal beat Punjab FC 1-0 in the final Group A game to qualify for the knockout stages of the Durand Cup
Spain's Javier Siverio produced the solitary goal as East Bengal beat Punjab FC 1-0 in the final Group A game to qualify for the knockout stages of the Durand Cup in Kolkata on Wednesday. Siverio got the all-important goal in the 22nd minute as East Bengal became the second team after Chennaiyin FC to make the quarter-final stage of Asia's oldest football tournament, courtesy topping the group with seven points from three games.
It was a professional performance by the home side as despite severe pressure applied by Punjab for the equaliser, they did not succumb.
PFC's Greek coach Staikos Vergetis made seven changes to the playing 11 that started against the Bangladesh Army in the previous game, while EB's Spanish coach Carles Cuadrat made only one, bringing in Nishu Kumar for Mandar Rao Desai.
However, their attacking style was similar with both leaving one striker upfront and two wingers in support.
Spanish winger Juan Mera, playing against his former club, took the first punt at goal inside five minutes, but his shot from range was saved by keeper Prabhsukan Gill, who once again had a great day under the bar with two consecutive clean sheets now.
After the initial sparring, EB's Australian defender Jordan Elsey came close at the 20-minute mark with a header off a set-piece. It was well worked out by Borja Herrera and Nandhakumar, but the effort was deflected out by the PFC defence.
The goal came off the resulting corner as Naorem Mahesh Singh worked it short with Borja, who then floated it in beautifully for Javier Siverio to leap the highest and direct his header away from keeper Kiran Limbu's reach and into the net.
The Spaniard nearly doubled the lead in the 40th minute when he connected with another header and beat Kiran again, but the ball hit the woodwork and came back.
Just before the break, Brandon did get a golden opportunity to equalise, but his effort was too weak to bother Prabhsukan. So did Juan Mera at the stroke of half-time with a direct free-kick in the danger zone just outside the box, but his effort too was way over.