Rajasthan United FC (RUFC) created history by qualifying for the quarterfinals of the 131st IndianOil Durand Cup, beating the Indian Navy Football Team 2-0, at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan (KBK) here on Monday.
Second-half strikes from Youssef Atriss and Sergio Barboza Junior ensured RUFC claimed the second spot in Group B. Mumbai City FC had already qualified as group toppers. ATK Mohun Bagan (ATKMB), who also finished with seven points in the group as the top two, bowed out on account of having lost to RUFC in the opening game of the group.
RUFC, who needed a win to qualify for the knockouts, started on the front foot against the Navy side, playing for nothing but pride having garnered just one point from their three earlier matches and with no chance to qualify. But both teams could not create any clear chances as the game was mostly played in the middle of the park. There were a lot of stops and starts to the game as both teams committed fouls while trying to break up each other’s moves.
The best chance of the half came for RUFC when William Pauliankhum ran into space and Navy keeper Vishnu V.K came way out of his box to narrow the angle. William dribbled past the keeper and crossed for a waiting Youssef Attris, who had to just tap it inside, but Navjot Singh made a last-ditch tackle to save his team the blushes. Indian Navy FT also had a good chance to take the lead when Harikrishna made a good move from the left and cut back for Jijo, whose shot flew over the bar.
RUFC started the second half by attacking the Navy box relentlessly. Every move looked like a goal-scoring opportunity. Second-half substitutes Sergio Barboza and 17-year-old Gyamar Nikum added more teeth to RUFC’s attack. But an exemplary performance under the bar by the Navy captain and keeper V.K Vishnu, singlehandedly denied RUFC. He made saves after saves including one which qualified as the save of the tournament when he tipped onto the bar a volley from Uruguayan Martin Chaves.
RUFC finally broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute through Lebanese striker Youssef Attris. A shot from Ragav Gupta from outside the box was well-saved by Vishnu but the rebound fell to Barboza who crossed past Vishnu and Youssef had to just tap it into an empty net.
The sense of relief also brought about the second goal after an excellent through ball by Nikum was met by Barboza’s run in the 89th minute and he finished confidently past Vishnu to seal the game for his team.