HAL produce another stunner, upset Mohun Bagan 2-1

Kolkata: Debutant Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. from Bangalore registered their second straight upset win of the I-League, shocking Mohun Bagan 2-1 in a gloomy, rain-soaked afternoon here on Wednesday.

Fresh from their surprise 1-0 win over Durand Cup runners-up JCT in their opening fixture, HAL were off to a flying with Vijay Kumar scoring in the 22nd minute, while Man of the Match J Murali produced the winning goal in the 81st.

Mohun Bagan saviour Jose Ramirez Barreto found the equaliser in the 31st minute as the two teams were locked 1-1 at half time.

Desperate for a win, Stanley Rozario’s boys began on an aggressive note, but the coach’s worst fears came true with HAL drawing the first blood to give the giants a testing time at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan’s artificial turf.

Without their star striker Edeh Chidi, who is down with a hamstring injury, Barreto was under pressure as he had to combine with Subair Muritala Ali who lacked the same finesse.

Mohun Bagan got a freak chance early in the 4th minute, when medio Jayanta Sen’s curling right-footer sailed over the bar, and the green-and-maroon brigade’s others attempts were thwarted by the HAL defence.

The home giants conceded a silly goal that saw a shoddy and half-hearted attempt by their veteran custodian Sangram Mukherjee.

If it was a case of goalkeeping blunder, Mohun Bagan’s equaliser in a matter of 10 minutes was a display of Barreto’s perfection.

HAL’s goal resulted from a Snehashish Chakraborty backpass that was cleared sloppily by Sangram as the Bangalore outfit’s right-winger Vijeshkumar utlised the opportunity to find the net, which should have been collected by the veteran custodian.

But it was Barreto who proved to be the saviour again when he showed his class as the Brazilian tackled HAL’s central defender Liliyan Kennath to strike the equaliser.

If Muritala gave some tough time to Mohun Bagan’s blunt attack, HAL were equally sloppy in their lacklustre display.

Just after the break, HAL’s last-match hero Xavier Vijaykumar missed a fine chance in front of the goal as his leftfooter went straight to Bagan goalkeeper Mukherjee.

More anxious moments were in store for Rozario as his striking line-up in absence of Chidi, who watched the match from the press gallery after being ruled out, did not work out.

Muritala let the attack down, while Barreto’s magic did not work for a second time as Mohun Bagan had to settle for a defeat.

Just when the match seemed headed towards a draw, HAL struck through Murali to leave the Mohun Bagan camp shocked.

From a Vijaykumar centre, R C Prakash headed it to perfection as Murali fired in the match-winning goal.

In fact, the buoyant HAL looked for another, but Prakash’s shot in the dying minutes hit the crosspiece to give Mohun Bagan some relief.

The Bangalore outfit, who qualified from the second division, now have six points after two straight victories.

Mohun Bagan, who were held 1-1 by Pune FC in their last match, now have one point from two matches.