KOLKATA, Sep 9
Kolkata giants Mohammedan Sporting overwhelmed a young and talented Kerala Blasters side 3-0 in the first quarter-final of the Durand Cup on Friday.
A brace from debutant Nigerian Abiola Dauda (59' 84') and a first-half strike by SK Faiaz (17') ensured a smooth ride to the last four for the Black and White brigade.
MDSP, despite missing key players like Faslu and Abhishek Halder due to injuries and suspension, were on the front foot from the outset and it seemed like a matter of time before they scored.
Credit should go to Azharuddin Malik for holding on to the ball in the middle of the Blasters half and then playing back to Safiul who played forward to Abhash Thapa.
Thapa found Marcus to his left and the Trinidadian delivered a dangerous low cross across the face of goal. Among two onrushing MDSP attackers, Yumnam Gopi missed it but Faiaz was at hand to slot home with ease.
The Blasters did not let the goal subdue their spirits and continued to try and get into the game by creating a few good chances of their own. The equaliser, though, did not materialise.
The half ended with MDSP ahead but needing to do more.
The attacks kept coming and Dauda got his first big chance in the 58th minute, when Marcus played Faiaz inside the box on the right and he in turn found the Nigerian perfectly with his cross.
Dauda met the ball on the full and with the keeper and an open goal in front of him, missed his connection and the volley flew over.
He did not have to wait for long for his first goal however, as the same Marcus-Faiaz combination, played him inside the box in between two defenders, just a minute later.
The Nigerian bluffed the keeper, taking him out of the equation and shot towards goal. Centre-back Marwan tried to salvage the situation, but all he got was a touch before the ball trickled inside the goal. The insurance was delivered. It was all over in the 84th when Marcus released Abhishek Ambekar on the left wing. The left wing-back drove in towards the touchline and delivered a perfect cross for Dauda to head in. PTI