East Bengal FC booked their place in the semi-final of the Durand Cup 2023 with a hard-fought 2-1 win against Gokulam Kerala FC at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata, on Friday.

Jordan Elsey (1’) gave East Bengal FC an early lead, but his goal was cancelled out in the second half by Aminou Bouba (57’). However, East Bengal FC soon retained their lead through an own goal from Bouba (78’) and held on to the victory.

East Bengal FC kick-started proceedings in Kolkata and won a corner in the first minute. They made the most of the set-piece as Javier Siverio headed the ball into a dangerous area after a cross. Elsey was the first to connect as he nodded the ball into the far corner.

The hosts had another opportunity to double their lead after winning a corner during the 32nd minute but were denied by the woodwork. Saul Crespo’s shot struck the upright and was then cleared away as Gokulam Kerala FC survived a scare.

Gokulam Kerala FC created a golden opportunity during the latter stages of the opening half but Prabhsukhan Gill came to East Bengal FC's rescue. The young keeper saved a strong attempt from Gokulam captain Alex Sanchez to keep his side’s lead intact going into the break.

East Bengal FC continued to pile pressure on the opposition after the restart, but surprisingly Gokulam Kerala FC scored against the run of play, adding spice to the contest. An unmarked Bouba was on the receiving end of Abhijith K’s cross at the near post and made no mistake in front of goal.

The Cameroonian forward was involved in the thick of things during the dying stages of the game as East Bengal FC reclaimed their lead following an own goal. Nishu Kumar’s quick cross took a deflection and went in off Bouba, adding to the misery of the I-League side.  

Edwin Vanspaul came close to adding another goal to East Bengal FC's tally in injury time, but his volleyed attempt was saved by the keeper.

East Bengal FC qualified for the Durand Cup semi-final after a period of four having, having last reached the last four during the 2019 edition. The Red & Golds will face NorthEast United FC in the semi-final clash.