Mohun Bagan rode Chidi Edeh's double strike to prevail over defending champions Mahindra United 2-1 and set up a summit clash with I-League winner Churchill Brothers in the 122nd ONGC Durand Cup football tournament at the Ambedkar Stadium on Sunday.
The Nigerian recruit scored for Mohun Bagan in the 19th and 72nd minutes, while Mohammed Rafi found the target for Mahindra in the 70th minute of the second semi-final.
With the win, Mohun Bagan went past their arch-rivals from Kolkata, East Bengal in the number of appearances in the final of the third oldest club-competition in the world.
If Mohun Bagan win the final on September 22, their first after 2000, they will also become the club with most number of Durand Cup titles with 17 crowns as against 16 of East Bengal.
Mohun Bagan, who last appeared in a Durand final in 2004 when they lost to East Bengal, will meet Churchill for the second time in a final this season after the IFA Shield. The two sides who played each other in the final of the last two editions of the tournament, refused to yield an inch to the other in front of a sizable crowd under floodlights.
The first half was evenly contested though Bagan led 1-0 at the breather. Chidi and Barretto combined well at the Bagan upfront while their defence led by India player Deepak Mondal and Rakesh Masih did well to stop Mahindra strikers Rafi and Sushil Kumar Singh, who failed to impress.
Mahindra got the opening chance of the match but striker Rafi shot straight to goalkeeper after he was sent in the clear ahead of Mohun Bagan defender Masih.
Two minutes later, Bagan retaliated but Lukram James Singh's right footer from outside the box was wide off the target by a few yards.
India international Sushil had a fine chance to put Mahindra ahead in the 17th minutes but his right footer after getting the better of Masih inside the opposition box, was not strong enough to get past a diving Mohun Bagan custodian Sangram Mukherjee.
As if Sushil's mistake was not enough, Mahindra defence was caught napping two minutes later to concede the lead to Mohun Bagan. A high cross off James Singh from the right fell nicely to Jose Barretto whose looping header was perfect for Chidi Edeh to blast home past Mahindra goalkeeper Subhashish Roy Choudhary for his third goal of the tournament.
Rafi, who scored twice in their last quarter-final against JCT, equalised in the 70th minute when his glancing header off free kick by Steven Dias went over out-of-position Bagan goalkeeper Sangram into the net.
Chidi made the day a memorable one with a diving header into the Mahindra goal off a corner from James Singh in the 72nd minute.