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Goalkeeping error gifts Mohun Bagan AC a point

I-League: East Bengal Club v Mohun Bagan AC

I-League: East Bengal Club v Mohun Bagan AC

A second half howler from East Bengal Club goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu saw Mohun Bagan AC hold their arch-rivals 1-1 in a Round 19 encounter of the Airtel I-League at the Saltlake Stadium on Saturday evening.

James Moga put the red-and-gold brigade in front in the first half but Mohun Bagan equalised through CS Sabeeth following Gurpreet’s mistake. The result keeps East Bengal 11 points off the top with three games in hand while Mohun Bagan are still five clear of the one relegation spot.

Mohun Bagan started strongly with Pankaj Moula having an early attempt which narrowly missed the target. The Mariners played at a high tempo and their pressing didn’t allow East Bengal to settle.

The red-and-gold brige were giving the ball away too easily with their only real effort in the first quarter of the game being a harmless volley from Joaquim Abranches.

Mohun Bagan’s good start nearly paid off when derby debutant Christopher Chizoba played Sabeeth clean through on goal but the former India U-23 international’s effort was brilliantly saved by Gurpreet.

Chizoba and Katsumi Yusa continued to look dangerous for Mohun Bagan but the quality in their final ball was missing.

East Bengal didn’t even have a proper move from open play in the first half but won an indirect freekick inside the Mohun Bagan box when goalkeeper Shilton Paul handled a back pass. But Mehtab Hossain and Harmanjot Khabra completely wasted that opportunity.

The opening goal for Armando Colaco’s side came against the run of play as Abranches’ cross from the left flank was headed into the back of the net by Moga. It was a quality delivery from Abranches which missed Ryuji Sueoka’s head at the near post but slotted home by Moga from close range.

Mohun Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa brought on Shouvik Ghosh in place of Pritam Kotal at the start of the second half and Yusa went close for the green-and-maroon brigade a few minutes after the restart as his freekick was well saved by Gurpreet at his near post.

East Bengal finally took control of the game in the second half as they were keeping the ball a lot better and winning some 50-50 duels unlike the first period. But Colaco’s side didn’t create any clear cut chances and didn’t even seriously test Shilton from set-pieces including the long throws of Raju Gaikwad.

Mohun Bagan’s equaliser though came almost out of nothing as Gurpreet spilled substitute Manish Bhargav’s shot and Sabeeth had an easy finish from the rebound to make up for the first half miss.

The goal gave Bencherifa’s team momentum as they enjoyed a spell of pressure with Yusa producing a good save off Gurpreet and Echezona Anyichie missing the target from a free header after a well-worked short corner.

Colaco introduced Lalrindika Ralte late on but it was Abranches who created a goal-scoring opportunity in stoppage time. The former Dempo player dispossessed Echezona and played a teasing low cross into the six-yard box but the onrushing Sueoka could only put his effort over the bar.

(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)