Mohun Bagan defeated arch-rivals and defending champions East Bengal 6-4 via the tie-breaker to set up a final clash with Dempo in the 30th Federation Cup at the floodlit Yuba Bharati Krirangan (YBK) at Salt Lake in Kolkata on Thursday.
After both the sides were locked 1-1 till the end of extra-time, Mohun Bagan converted all their attempts from the 'spot' to win the tie-breaker 5-3 (6-4 overall) and advance to the final of the tournament for a record 17 times.
For East Bengal, Sunil Chhetri turned out to be villain, as the ace striker missed his chance in the penalty shoot-out.
Earlier in the first semi-final, Dempo blanked Churchill Brothers 2-0 to advance into the summit clash. The match saw the Nigerian duo of Ranty Martins and Ogba Kalu Nnanna falling unconscious briefly while attempting a header.
In an incident that brought back the unfortunate memory of Cristiano Junior collapsing to death during Dempo's 2004 Federation Cup final against Mohun Bagan. The striker met with a tragic on-field death on December 5 after winning the Cup for Dempo by scoring two goals.
He collapsed and died seconds after scoring his teams' second goal following a collision with Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Subrata Pal in the dying minutes of the final. According to the final post-mortem report, Junior died of cardiac arrest following over-exertion and excitement.Ranty and Churchill defender Kalu rose for a header following a corner kick from Robert Lalthalma in the 73rd minute and their heads collided while airborne. They fell to the ground unconscious. An ambulance was called in immediately and they were rushed to the nearby Apollo Hospital. After CT scan, both the players were declared out of danger, said Dempo coach Armando Colaco, who burst into tears as his Churchill counterpart Zoran Djordjevic hugged and consoled him.
Play was halted for about eight minutes, but by then Dempo were already 2-0 ahead.
Sanju Pradhan gave East Bengal the much-needed lead, converting a free-kick from Alvito Da Cunha in the 61st minute. The curving kick was cleared by the Mohun Bagan's Rakesh Masih but Sanju was quick to capitalise from the rebound to help East Bengal go 1-0 up.
Jose Barreto cut short East Bengal's celebrations. The Brazilian scored four minutes later with a typical header. He utilised a Marcos Pereira free-kick to the fullest as he headed the ball to the ground. Subrata Pal placed himself well but the bounce was enough to defeat the East Bengal goalkeeper and give Mohun Bagan the equaliser in the 65th minute.
Dempo drew first blood through a penalty conversion following a hand-ball and Ranty duly converted the spot-kick.
Dempo settled the issue in the 57th minute and this time it was Clifford Miranda who did the magic with a flying header.
Making amends of his 44th minute miss, Clifford connected a Joaquim Abranches cross and sent his header home.
Churchill coach Djordjevic contested the penalty decision by referee Shaji Kurian, which however appeared to be clean after viewing television replays.
"For me, it was not a penalty. The referee did a bad job. He was not a referee but a Dempo player. Dempo deserved to win. But today they played with one player more. The eleven and the referee. Referee was big help for them," said the Serbian.