Mohammedan Sporting Club edged past Gokulam Kerala FC 1-0 in their quarterfinal clash of the 123rd IFA Shield on Monday at Kalyani Stadium to reach the semifinals.
In a game that didn’t have many open scoring chances with Tirthankar Sarkar scored the only goal of the match in the 8th minute.
Mohammedan Sporting started the match with more purpose as they threw everything they had to impose their will on their opponents during the early exchanges.
And their efforts were soon rewarded in the 8th minute when Philip Adjah was brought down inside the box by Gokulam Kerala FC goalkeeper Ubaid CK and a penalty was awarded. Tirthankar made no mistake from the penalty spot, drilling the ball into the top corner, to give Mohammedan Sporting early lead.
There were thoughts that the early goal might see the floodgates open for Mohammedan Sporting, however this was a Gokulam Kerala side with renewed purpose keen to show the form that saw them thrashing BSS Sporting Club 7-2 a couple of days back.
Dennis Antwi and Shibil Mohammed led the charge forward for the Malabarians, with several first-half chances going just short of the target.
Mohammedan Sporting, on the other hand, looked a lot more comfortable in the first-half, adopting a passing game that often had Gokulam Kerala giving chase rather than being able to control the game themselves.
There were a slew of chances for the Black Panthers but they were thwarted each time either by the penalty area management from Ubaid, or their own difficulties finding the target which saw the Black Panthers went into the breather with a solitary goal lead.
The second-half saw Mohammedan Sporting continue to attack with ease, but Ubaid kept his side in the contest with a number of fine saves, including one to deny Adjah in the 47th minute.
However, some sloppy defending from the Black Panthers eight minutes into the second-half gave Gokulam Kerala the chance to equalize, but goalkeeper Priyant Singh did very well as he came out to block Dennis from close range, before Jithin MS missed the target on the follow-up.
Mohammedan Sporting then took the ball up to the opposite end of the pitch and looked set to double their lead when Gani Ahmed Nigam arrived unmarked in the box to get on the end of a cross by Hira Mondal, but his header was brilliantly tipped over the crossbar by Ubaid.
The match started to become a little tenser as the clock counted down with Gokulam showing great determination in their pursuit of an equalizer, while Mohammedan Sporting remained solid at the back.
Gokulam Kerala, to their credit, never gave up but red cards to Deepak Devrani and Ubaid saw them down to nine-men as Mohammedan Sporting held on for a well-deserved win.
Mohammedan Sporting will face Real Kashmir FC in the semifinal on Wednesday, December 16 at the Saltlake Stadium.