THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

I-League: Mohun Bagan back to winning ways

Mumbai FC 1-5 Mohun Bagan AC

Mumbai FC 1-5 Mohun Bagan AC

Sunil Chhetri fired in two goals after making a tentative start to give an embattled Mohun Bagan a 5-1 win against Mumbai FC in the Round IV match of the I-League football championship at the Balewadi Sports Complex ground.

Even though the difference between the two teams was like chalk and cheese, it was the indifferent form of Chhetri that needed an overhaul. He missed so many chances, but towards the middle of the match he found his touch, assisted by Hudson Lima’s relentless feeding, the India striker scored a brace—both goals coming in such a manner that should raise his confidence to a next level.

Beginning with skipper Syed Rahim Nabi’s opener in the 22nd minute, Bagan went on to dominate much of the proceedings leaving no chance for Mumbai FC to even try and play defensive. The attack became more persistent in the second half when Ashim Biswas was awarded a goal when it seemingly looked like a goal-line save effected by Faizal Rehman of Mumbai FC. There were sharp protests, but the Goan referee Francisco Fernandes stood his ground.

Earlier, Bagan seemingly left the painful memories of 0-5 thrashing by Dempo and played openly at the sun-drenched ground. Chhetri kept himself busy throughout, but his rustiness was still evident as the India player missed chances galore every time he received long balls from the right flank.

Hudson Lima was playmaker in every sense, feeding and nursing the ball relentlessly. Chhetri had messed up a chance in the 21st minute when he was in a good position to score with just two defenders on his sides when the ball landed at his feet. But Chhetri wasted precious time allowing the defenders to close in and foil the move.

In the very next minute, Lima sent a cross in the box and Syed Rahim Nabi headed in the first goal for Bagan. Lima was at it yet again when he found Chhetri unmarked, but the striker muffed the chance as he failed to control the ball in the 25th minute.

Soon after, another gaffe engulfed Chhetri, who failed to get into position soon enough. That allowed Mumbai FC defenders Gbeneme Friday and Abhishek Yadav to block his view forcing Chhetri to shoot wide in desperation.

But Chhetri recovered in time—first sending a free-kick into the top of the crosspiece and then heading a perfect corner from Lima in the 86th minute to make it 5-0. Before that, skipper Nabi set up a fine move from the right flank before he spotted an unmarked Chhetri in the box. Instead of setting himself up, Chhetri tapped  the ball behind for an onrushing SK Jewel Raja, who effected a blinder of a grounder leaving Mumbai FC custodian Nidhin Lal sprawled four corners.

Mumbai FC got the consolation goal in the third minute of the added time when Bagan goalkeeper Shilton Paul was yellow carded for unlawful tackle. The subsequent spot kick by Ebi Sukore went in but that was no recourse to Mumbai FC’s woes as they slumped to third straight loss.

(AIFF Press Release)