Dempo SC showed why they have been the team to beat as they brushed aside local rivals Salgaocar FC 2-0 to storm into the 36th Federation Cup 2015 final, at Fatorda’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Friday.
The one-time champions stayed true to their reputation with Tolgay Ozbey at the double either side of halftime. The Aussie scored off a deflection in the first half and bettered his tally from the spot after the break. Salgaocar got their best chance in the second half through Douhou Pierre but the former Pune FC man failed to connect.
Dempo brought back their regular starters in place of the reserves who started in the inconsequential tie against Royal Wahingdoh.
Salgaocar on the hand were forced to make one change to their line up from the last match, Brian Mascarenhas having to fill the big shoes of injured Darryl Duffy. The Scottish talisman who was the joint highest scorer in last season’s I-League limped off against Pune FC dealing a huge blow to his side ahead of the semi clash.
Mascarenhas found the going difficult against his former employers, lacking the guile of Duffy and forcing Derrick Pereira to replace him with Clifton Dias in the 35th minute.
The early change was done more because Dempo looked menacing from the word go and took the lead when the match was only twelve minutes old.
Francis smashed a low shot goalwards from just outside the box after a flurry of Dempo attacks had rocked the Salgaocar citadel.
The ball took a deflection off Tolgay to roll in with Salgaocar stopper-back Augustine Fernandes also getting something on the ball but to no avail.
Ozbey who knew little about the goal he scored deserved to be on the scoresheet though, coming tantalizingly close twice either side of the goal as Dempo ran riot.
At the other end all the green shirts could muster was a close range effort from Rosario Mendes who missed by some yards.
Change of ends saw no change in the tide as Dempo pulled away. Tolgay was at the heart of the action again as a driving run Romeo Fernandes down the middle found the Aussie in the clear. Paul charged down to narrow the angle but while smothering the ball brought down Tolgay inside the area.
The Australian got up, brushed his shirt and slammed home low to the keeper’s right with aplomb. Paul guessed correctly but had to give in to the sheer class of the spot kick. The strike took the former East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan porting man to the top of the goalscoring charts with five to his name.
It could have been more misery for the 2011 champions had Paul not underlined his credentials as India’s best between the sticks with three stupendous saves in the space of six minutes.
The veteran goalkeeper nicknamed Spiderman for his heroics over the years made himself look like a giant starfish saving from Mandar Rao Desai, Jejel Raja’s long-ranger, and substitute Holicharan Narzary from point blank range. Douhou failed to connect Salgaocar’s best chance in the second half as the Durand Cup champions bowed out of the competition.
(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)