FC Goa were stretched to the limit before they overcame Bengaluru FC 7-6 in sudden death to become the first Indian Super League side to enter the Durand Cup final here on Wednesday.
Having conceded a sloppy opening goal, Naveen Kumar made amends with his brilliant save off Damaitphang Lyngdoh to bring an end to the marathon 16 spot kicks.
Both teams were locked 2-2 after extra time.
FC Goa will face local heavyweights Mohammedan Sporting in the summit clash at the same venue on Sunday.
Earlier, Sivasakthi Narayanan was the star for Bengaluru as he gave them the early advantage with his first-minute goal and then forced the match into extra time with his 83nd minute strike.
Trailing 0-1, the Juan Ferrando-coached side snatched a 2-1 lead with strikes from Devendra Dhaku Murgaonkar (8th) and Redeem Tlang (72nd).
But there was more drama in store when Siva Shakthi brought the equaliser after Namgyal Bhutia set it up with a great ball inside the box.
The ensuing tiebreaker failed to break the deadlock as both the sides struck four times and missed once.
For the Goans, Aibanbha Kupar Dohling, Sanson Pereira, Leander D Cunha and Edu Betia converted their chances, while Bengaluru goalkeeper Lara thwarted Redeem’s strike in their second effort.
Bengaluru matched Goa with each shot with Wungngayam Muirang, Ajay Chhetri, Parag Shrivas, Namgyal Bhutia and captain Ajith Kumar scoring from the spot kicks, while Akashdeep’s shot to the right was saved by Naveen.
In the sudden death, Papuia and Makan Chothe and Christy Davis struck for the Gaurs, while Ajith Kumar and Bekey Oram scored for Bengaluru before Naveen provided the winning moment.
Ferrando went into the game with a five-man back line as he was missing key players like Brandon Fernandez, Glan Martins and Sertion Fernandez, all now on India duty.
Naushad Moosa, the BFC coach was the more enterprising, opting for a three-man forward line and going in without a central mid-fielder.
Sivasakthi gave BFC a great start, thanks to a shocker by Goa keeper Naveenn Kumar.
Goa bounced back almost immediately.
A smartly taken training-ground short corner and Nemil put that in the path of Devendra Murgaokar who deflected it past Lara in the BFC goal.
This was Murgaokar’s fifth of the tournament and his stature continues to rise with every passing game.
Thereafter it was all Goa in the half and the Gaurs should have taken an unassailable lead but for the wastefulness from the likes of Edu Bedia and Nemil in front of the goal.
Goa had the upper hand in the second half as well and finally Redeem, who had just come in as part of a triple change by Ferrando, put them ahead.
He would owe it all to Spanish playmaker Alberto Noguera Ripoll as his piercing run at the BFC defence found him in space and the former Shillong Lajong man made no mistake with a scorching left-footer that whizzed past Lara.
BFC, to their credit, kept moving forward and found reward 11 minutes later when a move from the right flank by Namgyal Bhutia and his subsequent cross saw Siva Sakti leaping above the Goan defence for his second of the game.
FC Goa’s Murgaokar and Mohameddan’s Marcus Joseph are now the top goal scorers with one game to go.
Goa’s captain Bedia was adjudged the Man of the Match.