Kolkata: Reigning Indian Super League (ISL) champions Hyderabad FC (HFC), took their allotted slot in the semi-finals of the 131st IndianOil Durand Cup, defeating Rajasthan United FC (RUFC) 3-1, in the fourth and final quarter-final played here at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan (KBK), on a rainy Monday evening in Kolkata.
Nigerian goal-machine Bartholomew Ogbeche opened the scoring for the ISL champions, with Akash Mishra and Javier Siverio getting the other two. Uruguayan Martin Chavez scored off a penalty for Rajasthan.
As a result, both semi-final lineups are now finalized with Mohammedan Sporting taking on Mumbai City FC on Wednesday, September 14, 2022, while Hyderabad go up against Bengaluru FC a day later. Both those games will be played at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK).
Pitch conditions would be key to the game given the amount of rain the city had received from a day before the game and it was clear that Manolo Marquez meant business from the word go when he started with Ogbeche and it was not long before the Nigerian got on the score sheet. Borja Herrera delivered the curler with his left from the left flank and Ogbeche got ahead of his marker expertly and drilled a header past keeper Vishal Joon, beating him at the near post. It was just six minutes on the clock.
HFC did make the mistake of sitting back a bit after the goal and to their credit RUFC took the opportunity to mount attacks of their own. The pressure led to an inadvertent back-pass to the keeper and Rajasthan were awarded an indirect free-kick just outside the six-yard box.
Play-maker Martin Chavez, who had a very good game, tried to hit the roof of goal with a wall of HFC players on the goal line, including keeper Kattimani. The ball deflected back from the wall but in trying to clear it, Akash Mishra handled it inside the box and Rajasthan were awarded a penalty. Chavez calmly hoodwinked the keeper to draw Rajasthan level.
That charged up RUFC and they continued to press hard, resulting in a few good chances to score. With about 10-mins left for the half to end including added time, Hyderabad stepped on the gas again.
After having come close a few times, it was destined for Akash Mishra to make amends and he did it with a brilliant diagonal left-footed grounder from outside the box, which went like a bullet to beat the outstretched hands of Vishal Joon to nestle into the bottom left-corner. HFC had taken the lead at the stroke of half-time.
Both coaches made a change each at the break. Joao Victor came in for HFC for Borja and Gyanmar Nikum was brought in by Pushpender Kundu in place of William. It was end to end action in the second half with HFC looking to widen the gap and RUFC for an equalizer. Both teams failed to score however. The coaches also started making their moves. Kundu brought in Brazilian Barboza Jnr in place of Lebanese Youssef Atriss in search of a goal. But it was the move made by Marquez in the 68th minute which made the difference.
He effected a double change, bringing Hali Charan Narzary and Nikhil Poojary in place of Chhangte and Yasir. Seconds after coming on Narzary delivered a perfect cross from the left flank for Siverio and the Spaniard made no mistake with a first-time tap in finish from close. The Rajasthan coach would not be happy that the dangerous striker was kept unmarked with the game still in balance.
To their credit RUFC did not stop trying. Kattimani denied them with a fantastic reflex save in the 75th. Even in added time, a Chavez free-kick from the left-flank curled and dipped and beat Kattimani, only to hit the bar and come back.
Rajasthan had given everything they could, but in the end it was the fancied Hyderabad who went through.