Mohun Bagan scrape past Mumbai FC
Kolkata: Mohun Bagan rallied from a goal deficit with two late strikes by Odafa Okolie to clinch a dramatic 2-1 victory over Mumbai FC and climb to the second spot of the I-League table at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Saturday.
Gbemene Friday gave Mumbai FC a 24th minute lead and the visitors looked to pull off a stunning upset.
But their inexperience cost them dearly as two mistakes in less than eight minutes was enough to give Mohun Bagan and the frenzied supporters the last laugh in their return-leg match.
Mumbai FC centre back Dhanachandra Singh was the culprit as his wrong tackle earned Mohun Bagan a 72nd minute penalty to help Nigerian goal machine Odafa open his account.
In the 80th minute, Odafa capitalised on a goalkeeping misjudgement by Sanjiban Ghosh to earn the winner, bringing joy and relief to the supporters.
It was a memorable day for Mohun Bagan (37 points) as their arch rivals East Bengal (35) lost at Shillong by an identical scoreline, a result that shot the green and maroon brigade to second spot, three points behind leaders Dempo.
A depleted Mohun Bagan, playing without Brazilian duo of Jose Barreto and Hudson Lima, and star striker Sunil Chhetri found the going tough in the first 45 minutes.
Fresh from their upset win over Goan giants Churchill Brothers, Mumbai FC, on the other hand, began with a positive intent and looked the better side in the first-half.
For Mohun Bagan, there was lack of creativity in the midfield with wingers Jewel Raja and Snehashish looking clueless and engaging in a lot of misspasses, even as Odafa and Surkumar Singh looked positive.
Midway into the first-half, Mumbai FC received a long ball from the midfield as Friday brilliantly controlled the ball on his chest before tackling Anwar Ali and Kingshuk Debnath to shoot past Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Sangram Mukherjee.
Though appeared a little nervous, Mumbai FC held on to the lead at halftime.
Mohun Bagan had a solitary 34th minute chance when Odafa headed the ball towards rear post but an alert Sanjiban avoided the danger for Mumbai FC.
Mumbai FC led almost midway through the second-half but for Dhanachandra Singh who came out from nowhere to bring down Jewel Raja inside the box to be awarded a penalty.
It was a perfect opening for Mohun Bagan as Odafa calmly converted the penalty, his 18th goal this season and fifth from the spot to bring the hosts back into the game.
Two minutes later, Friday almost put it across but could not hold on with a wayward shot.
As luck would have it, Mohun Bagan got the winner in the 80th minute. Mumbai FC`s inexperience came to fore as their goalkeeper Sanjiban completely misjudged the ball to come off the line as Anwar headed it to Odafa who easily notched up his second goal of the match.
Those two tactical errors denied Mumbai FC a second successive upset win, even as Mohun Bagan kept on penetrating for a third.
Manish Mathani squandered an easy chance, while Odafa missed a chance to score a hat-trick in the dying minutes but the Mariners returned jubilant, while there was heart break for the Mumbaikars.