Close shave for Mohun Bagan against Air India

Pune: Odafa Okolie saved Mohun Bagan the blushes as he helped the Kolkata outfit hold Air India to a 2-2 draw in a 21st round I-League encounter at the Balewadi Sports Complex on Tuesday.

Odafa assisted one goal (20th minute) before scoring the equaliser (64th).

With a clear chance to inch closer to leaders Dempo SC, Bagan were not in their usual self -- striker Sunil Chhetri was totally off-colour while defenders Surkumar Singh and Syed Rahim Nabi were listless for quite some time. They were lucky to have escaped with a draw after Air India fired in two goals through Man-of-the-Match Manandeep Singh.

Odafa though, was in his elements, creating chances after chances. After both teams tested the waters, Odafa moved from the right to take the ball into the box before sending it back for Manish Maithani after he was outnumbered by Air India defenders.

Maithani was just outside the box and he judged it well to send a lob which completely foxed Air India custodian Pawan Kumar, to score the first goal in the 20th minute. But the home team wasn`t in a mood to give up so easily. On the counterattack, the Air India forward line sprinted up with purpose and in a melee, a header from Bagan defender came to Manandeep Singh, who executed a bicycle kick into the post in the 21st minute.

Air India`s best move came in the 39th minute when local lad Prakash Thorat broke through Bagan defence from the left and charged up before reaching the box having beaten a defender on the way. Thorat had an open goal with Shilton totally waylaid, but his shot from five yards hit the post, but Manandeep was in place and despite a few fumbles he shot in for a 2-1 lead.

Odafa struck the equaliser in the 64th minute after he got a free ball in the box. Five minutes later he would have given Bagan the winner, but his shot struck the post.


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