Mahindra United were lucky to edge past a fighting Border Security Force by a late goal to set up a quarter-final date with Sporting Clube de Goa in Osian's Durand Cup football tournament at the Ambedkar Stadium in Delhi on Friday.
Ghanain Yusuf Yakubu converted his second spot-kick of the match in the 87th minute, after seeing one blocked by BSF 'keeper Deepak Kumar Junior 10 minutes earlier, to clinch the issue.
Earlier, Sporting subdued a valiant Army XI, the 2005 Durand champions, 2-1 with goals from Nigerian Olushola Ogundare (eighth minute) and substitute Bibiano Fernandes (71st).
Ramachandran got a consolation goal for the soldiers in the 92nd minute.
The quarter-finals begin on Saturday with Churchill Brothers taking on Central Railway and Air India facing defending champions Dempo Sports Club.
Sunday features the Mahindra United - Sporting Clube clash and Salgaocar JCT match.
Mahindra coach Derrick Pereira did not include any of his international players in the starting line-up but was forced to field his big guns in the second half because of an unexpected fight from the paramilitary team.
BSF were clearly the better team in the first half and dominated proceedings in the opening 45 minutes.
They came agonisingly close in the 17th minute when Banti Singh went on a probing run through opposition territory but his shot from inside the box came off the upright.
That was not the only dangerous moment for the Mahindra goal, protected by seasoned international Sandip Nandy. BSF could have gone into the break with a lead had they displayed clinical finishing.
As the half wore on, Mahindra started coming into their own and the Ghanain strike pairing of Yusuf Yakubu and Andrews Pomeyie Mensah developed better understanding.
In the final minute of the half, Yakubu was denied by a good save by BSF 'keeper Deepak Kumar Junior and the custodian came to the aid of coach Avtar Singh's side off the resultant corner, tipping over a header by Mohammad Rafi.
Coach Pereira sent stalwarts Krishnan Ajayan and Steven Dias after half-time and later fielded N P Pradeep to break down the stiff resistance.
Though Mahindra laid siege on the BSF penalty area, the qualifiers held firm and even launched some counter-attacks of their own.
Manjit Singh looked strangely off-colour while Dias's crosses were also not as telling as usual. Ajayan was not as influential as he would like.
When Dias did find a dangerous cross, Rafi missed a free header inside the box.
There was some drama when BSF's star striker Gurjeet Atwal, who came in as a substitute, was seen with blood on his forehead without any contact. He was taken to the sidelines and resumed action with a bandage but was not very effective.
Mahindra got their first penalty when T Bhattacharjee was adjudged to have brought down Yakubu inside the box. The striker stepped up to the mark and drilled his shot right down the middle with Deepak Kumar blocking it with his legs, much to the delight of BSF supporters in the stands.
But it was not to be the only penalty of the match as soon afterwards, Bhattacharjee was pulled up for a handball inside the area. This time Yakubu aimed for the top right corner of the net and though Deepak Kumar got a hand to it, the shot had enough power in it to give Mahindra the winner.