Kolkata’s East Bengal scripted history of sorts when they secured a maiden berth in the AFC Cup semi-finals after holding Indonesia’s Semen Padang 1-1, at the Agus Salim stadium in Padang, on Tuesday.
The Indian club advanced on a 2-1 aggregate, having won the first leg quarter-final meeting in Kolkata 1-0.
Backed by a vociferous home crowd, the Indonesian side started aggressively and was rewarded in the 24th minute when Andrew Wilson found the net.
A silly error by East Bengal goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh, who sent the ball straight to Wilson following a goal kick, was enough for the Liberian forward to bulge the net from 22 yards.
But East Bengal, who needed just a draw to make the last four stage, fought back and found the equaliser in the 75 minute.
Baljit Singh Sahni’s measured cross saw substitute James Moga, who replaced Ryuji Sueoka -- the scorer in the first leg -- time his run to perfection and head the ball home.
For Joaquim Abranches and Abhijit Mondal, the success is all the more sweet as they were also part of Dempo’s squad that played in the semi-finals of the second tier inter-continental club competition in 2008.
Till now, Dempo were the only Indian football club to make the semi-finals of the AFC Cup.
East Bengal's previous best show in the AFC Cup was in 2004 when Subhas Bhowmick guided the side to the quarter-finals.
Photograph: AIFF Media