Air India breeze past ten men Mumbai Customs to set up a Grand Finale with ONGC

Air India cruised into the final of the 108th Nadkarni Cup after crushing high flying Mumbai Customs 3-0 in the second semi-final played at the RCF Sports Club in Chembur. Mumbai Customs played majority of the second half with ten men after Mathew Coutinho saw red.

Air India were at it right from the start as they won a free kick in a decent position after within seconds of the start. Onkar Singh shot it wide of the target.

In the 4th minute Sajjad Alam almost picked out in form Francisco Salin who was in acres of space. Seven minutes later Mervin Stephen’s cross was nicely cleared by Sajjad Alam after a good counter attack from Air India.

Air India’s Faisal T was booked for a nasty tackle in the 18th minute after Air India were having a good spell in the game. But just a minute later, Air India keeper Vian Joseph produced two brilliant saves to deny both the Customs’ forwards Francisco Salin and Mathew Coutinho and keep Air India level.

Although that attack did not break Air India’s momentum, as they continued to control the game and create problems for Mumbai Customs. The game was getting increasingly physical as a foul on a Customs’ player resulted in violent reactions from the Customs’ camp and soon there was a brawl on the pitch.

The officials did well to control the situation as the game resumed again. Air India won two free kicks in promising area but failed to work the Customs’ keeper. Air India missed a great chance in the 38th minute to take the lead as defender Wayne Vaz shot over after Mervin Stephen had headed back a corner in his path. Three minutes later, Air India was very close again to take the lead as Vijith Shetty brilliantly chased down a long ball only for the keeper to intervene in time for Mumbai Customs.

Air India were to conjure yet another chance before the close of the half as Siddharth Nayak hit his volley over after profiting from a loose clearance by the Customs’ defender.

Air India went into half time much the better side but without anything to show for it.

But they came out in the second half in the same fashion as the first as a brilliant one two resulted in a shot which was well collected by goalkeeper Lihaz Koya.

Air India’s dominance was rewarded in the 57th minute when T. Johnychand Singh scored from close range after finding himself through on goal. The goal was long time coming as the Customs’ resistance was finally broken.
Things went from bad to worse for Mumbai Customs when Mathew Coutinho who hit out at Raynier Fernandes and was rightly sent off by the referee. Customs now were really up against it after going a goal and a man down within a space of two minutes.

But that did not seem to deter Mumbai Customs who almost equalized but for Vian Joseph who pulled out a blinder of a save to keep out bullet header from close range by Gilroy Arahana. It was a save from the top drawer from Vian Joseph to deny Mumbai Customs an equalizer.

That attempt seemed to boost Mumbai Customs who were playing with a bit more vigour despite being a man down, but their newly found energy was sapped when they were hit by a sucker punch, as Air India doubled their lead in the 65th minute as T. Johnychand Singh got his second of the afternoon after he tapped in a loose ball which resulted from a confusion in the Customs’ penalty area when dealing with a shot from the Air India offender.

Mumbai Customs made a substitution in the 73rd minute hoping it would change their fortunes as Deepak Irmali was replaced by Sagar Bedekar. Mumbai Customs nearly reduced the deficit eight minutes later when Praneel Mendon shot over after being played in by substitute Sagar Bedekar.

Air India rounded off a comfortable afternoon with a goal from substitute Ashkar CV after a cut back found him. Minutes later, the referee blew for full time to send Air India through as Customs crashed out.

Air India meet ONGC in the Final of the RCF Nadkarni Cup on 4th December 2014

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