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

Mohun Bagan crowned I-League champions as Rasaq’s header breaks Bengaluru hearts

2014-15 I-League Champions Mohun Bagan AC
2014-15 I-League Champions Mohun Bagan AC

Picture courtesy: I-League Media

An 86th minute header from Bello Rasaq cancelled a first half goal from John Johnson as Mohun Bagan AC went on to lift their maidan I-League title, earning the draw they needed at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bangalore on Sunday evening. Bengaluru FC seemed to be inching towards their second consecutive I-League crown before the heartbreaking equaliser quelled hopes making it a historic night at a fortress packed with 21,000 people.

The night could have had a different ending when Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Shilton Pal carelessly clattered into an onrushing Robin Singh who was clear on goal. But referee M.B. Santosh Kumar chose to turn down appeals of what seemed like a definite penalty.

Ashley Westwood sprung a surprise with his starting eleven, with Sunil Chhetri finding himself on the bench as young striker Udanta Singh was handed a start. Accompanied by Sean Rooney and Robin Singh upfront, the Blues attacked from the word go, with Udanta making all the early noises. The 18-year-old first sent in a cross for Rooney, who was unable to get the required direction on his header before swinging another low drive into a dangerous area only for Robin.

A flooded fortress erupted to the seams in the 41st minute when Johnson rose to thump home Eugeneson Lyngdoh’s corner which was the result of some constant pressing by the Blues. But just when Johnson thought he had played hero for the half, he was pressed into playing the part again. A swift exchange of passes saw Balwant tap from Katsumi’s cross roll into what seemed like an empty goal only for Johnson to turn up, slide and save it off the line as the Blues took the lead to the dressing room.

The rains came lashing down as soon as the second half kicked off as both teams took time to grapple with the conditions. Chasing the sole point, Mohun Bagan upped the ante with Katsumi Yusa and Sony Norde constantly hovering around the Bengaluru FC box. But a stubborn Bengaluru FC defence kept the attacks at bay.

But the sucker punch was landed four minutes from time when Bello leaped high to nod home Norde’s corner as Mohun Bagan clung on to the point to be crowned champions for the first time since the I-League adopted its new avatar. In a silver lining on a cloudy night for the Blues, Lyngdoh was named midfielder of the season for what has been an exceptional string of consistent performances.