Lalrindika Ralte struck in the second-half of the extra time to help East Bengal advance into the final of the 34th Federation Cup with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Churchill Brothers at the floodlit Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri on Thursday.
The Mizoram youngster found the match-winner in the 112th minute from a Mehtab Hossain free kick after both teams were locked goalless in the regulation 90 minutes as East Bengal made to their fourth successive, and 16th overall, Federation Cup final.
Hossain brilliantly placed the ball to midfielder Orji Penn who set it up for an unmarked Ralte in the left side of the box.
East Bengal's new recruit rose to the occasion with a spectacular left-footed volley that went past Churchill Brothers goalkeeper Sandip Nandy to find the back of the net. Nandy, who had previously saved a brilliant Manandeep Singh header, could not do much despite diving to his left as the packed supporters torched flames to celebrate the goal.
Minutes later, Churchill's woes deepened as they were reduced to 10 men after referee Santosh Kumar red-carded Israil Gurung.
Churchill Brothers dominated in the beginning as East Bengal defence looked rusty and were slow to start with. But as the game wore on the magical moment was missing for a goalless 90 minutes.
Both teams tried their best to break the deadlock but there was not much penetration from the both the forward line-ups.
Churchill did well to mark as East Bengal forward Edeh Chidi who was not let free at all with Lebanese centre back Bilal Najjarin cutting off the Nigerian's goal-poaching ability on more than one occasions.
Churchill's Brazilian forward Beto too was lacklustre and got several free kicks but without any fruitful result.
East Bengal had a golden chance in the 58th minute but Churchill Brothers custodian Nandy, playing against his former team, stood tall, thwarting a Manandeep Singh header off a Saumik Dey brilliant cross.
With eight minute left for the extra-time and when it looked like the match's fate would be decided through a penalty shootout, the red-and-gold earned the winner through a brilliant coordination of Hossain, Orji and Ralte.
A couple of minutes after conceding the goal, Gurung was sent off after fouling East Bengal captain Sanju Pradhan as Churchill were reduced to 10 players.
The Goans looked desperate for the equaliser but East Bengal looked all charged-up after scoring the goal as there was no looking back.
East Bengal will face the winners of the second semifinal between Dempo and defending champions Salgaocar scheduled on Friday.
The final is scheduled on September 30.