Phalguni Singh's second half goal was enough for ISL side Northeast United FC to overcome a spirited Indian Army FC 1-0 in the first quarterfinal of the Durand Cup here on Thursday.
Phalguni Singh scored in the 51st minute.
Indian Army head coach L. Anthony Ramesh made two changes to the starting lineup with captain Bhabindra Malla Thakuri back after suspension in goal and Liton Shil in the place of Alwin E.
Northeast's Juan Pedro Benali made five changes to his starting XI with Soraisham Dinesh Singh, Gaurav Bora, Gani Ahmed Nigam, Redeem Tlang and Konsam Phalguni Singh coming in.
Northeast United settled down quickly and controlled possession in the middle of the pitch. Indian Army were sticking to their plan of defending with numbers and attacking in the counter attacks.
Liton Shil tested NEUFC keeper Mirshad with a long range effort and minutes later he combined with Rahul Ramakrishnan but the latter's effort whisked past the post.
NEUFC dominated the next exchanges and troubled the Army defence. Ibson Melo set up French midfielder Romain Philippoteaux inside the box and his curler came back off the crossbar.
Rochharzela had a golden opportunity to give NEUFC the lead but the forward lashed his effort over the crossbar. Indian Army started to press high up the field forcing mistakes out of NEUFC and started to play some attacking football.
Liton Shil showed some excellent skills to dodge two defenders inside the box but his shot was saved by Mirshad. Samir Murmu had a chance to give the Army men the lead in first half injury time as Christopher Kamei found the forward free but his side footed effort went wide as both teams went into the break goalless.
Juan Pedro introduced Manvir Singh and Nestor Roger in the second half and they set up the winning goal. Nestor's precise cross set up Manvir, who deftly assisted Phalguni to score, securing the lead for NEUFC.
Indian Army increased the intensity trying to come back into the game but were lacking in the final third of the pitch.
At the other end, second half substitutes Jithin MS and Manvir made some good runs on the wings. Army pushed hard in the final minutes to find the equaliser as the coach brought on fresh legs to inject more pace.
They piled the pressure on the NEUFC defence but the Highlanders soaked everything to keep their one goal lead intact and qualify for the semifinals.