Saikat Saha Roy kept his nerve at undoubtedly the most crucial moment of his life on a football turf as East Bengal prevailed over Salgaocar 5-4 in sudden death to lift the Super Cup in New Delhi [ Images ] on Tuesday.
After Irungbam Meitei's attempt hit the crosspiece, it was Roy's strike that helped East Bengal extract revenge of their loss to the same opponent in the final of the Federation Cup last month.
The match went into the tie-breaker after both teams failed to break the deadlock in regulation time.
Edeh Chidi, Ryuji Seoka, Rocus Lamare and Rahul Kumar found the net for Salgaocar in the tie-breaker, while Tolgay Ozbey, Alan Gow, Robin Singh and Sanju Pradhan did the same for East Bengal to take the match into sudden death.
Thanks to the triumph, East Bengal became the first team to win the tournament on three occasions.
Barring the miss by Meitei, the script remained pretty much the same in sudden death, as skipper Luciano Sabrosa, Meharajuddin Wadao, Francis Fernandes and Tomba Singh scored for the Goans, while Saha along with Sushant Mathew, Khangtang Paite, Nirmal Chetri and Uga Okpara struck for the winners.
This was the third instance of a Super Cup match going into tie-breaker. East Bengal beat JCT in 1997, before losing to Mahindra United in 2003.
While the climax turned out to be an eventful one, the time before the referee blew the final whistle to signal the end of regulation time, was far from impressive.
What was expected to provide the much-needed entertainment after a drab Durand Cup, the match instead proved to be a damp squib with both teams not being their usual self.
Salgaocar, especially, disappointed as they rarely showed the urgency needed to take a stranglehold of the match at an almost empty Ambedkar Stadium.
The sporadic moves were there, but the likes of Alan Gow and local Robin Singh from East Bengal and Salgaocar's prolific poachers Ryuji Seoka and Edeh Chidi were, for a change, found wanting when it came to finding the back of the net.
While Karim Bencherifa's Salgaocar could not create a single opening of note, East Bengal were a wee bit unlucky as rival custodian Karanjit Singh denied them twice with two acrobatic saves.
First was when he smartly blocked East Bengal's Scottish recruit, Alan Gow's power-packed freekick in the 13th minute and then, 10 minutes later, effected another brilliant save by palming away a Penn Orji attempt with his left hand.
As Orji set himself up for the shot after receiving a reverse pass from Gow, it looked like the deadlock would be broken, but Karanjit did not let that happen.
Eight minutes after the change of ends, East Bengal's Uga Okpara had a chance but his header off a Robert Lalthumuana corner went over.
After the reverse in the Federation Cup at the hands of the same opponent, the match was a chance for East Bengal to erase the painful memory and coach Trevor Morgan, in his quest to draw the first blood, replaced Orji with Ozbey, but to no avail.
There was Gow's curling freekick, which missed the target by a whisker, in the 83rd minute.