Ivorian, Douhou Pierre netted his third of the competition to help Salgaocar FC hold Tuff Laxmi Prasad SC to a 1-1 draw in the final Group A quarterfinal league match of the 127th edition of the Durand Cup played at Raia Panchayat Ground. Both the goals were scored in the first half. The Greens topped Group A with 4 points and will take on the winners of Group C in the semi-finals.
Derrick made 4 changes to the side that took the field against Indian Navy. Pawan Kumar started in place of Zambian Francis Kasonde in the heart of defence to enable the gaffer field Scottish striker Darryl Duffy as his second foreigner in the starting 11, thereby making his intentions clear at the outset. Rosario Mendes started in place of Othallo Tabia at right back and Rocus Lamare returned to the side in place of Clifton Dias. The game got off to a brisk start with both teams looking to score early. Salgaocar used the flanks to good effect but the Tuff defence manned by former Salgaocar player, Chika Wali, held fort. Much against the run of play, Tuff broke the deadlock when a break from the left resulted in a corner. From the ensuing corner, ND Opara headed home from close range in the 28th minute to give Tuff Laxmi Prasad the lead.
Salgaocar pressed hard for the equaliser with Douhou Pierre linking up well with Darryl Duffy to create a few half chances and problems aplenty for the rival defence. Tuff seemed all set to go into the breather with their lead intact. However, ‘The Greens’ had other ideas and managed to break down the rival citadel to restore parity when Douhou’s scorcher from the just outside the box found the top corner leaving the keeper with no chance.
In the second period, Tuff went all out for the winner which allowed Salgaocar to catch their opponents on the break. Tuff though persisted and one of their attacks from the right resulted in the ball landing at the feet of ND Opara. The latter took a crack at goal and almost restored Tuff’s lead. However, Augustin Fernandes did brilliantly to effect an excellent goal line save. The Greens survived some anxious moments towards the end but held on to earn a place in the semi-finals scheduled for 6th November.