Mohun Bagan AC kept the pressure on East Bengal Club ahead of the Kolkata Derby with a thrilling 3-2 win over a spirited Aizawl FC at the Rabindra Sarovar Stadium tonight (February 4, 2017).
Darryl Duffy leapt to the top of the top-scorer chart of the league with a brace and Jeje Lalpekhlua got on the scoresheet as well but it was Aizawl who came from behind twice through Jayesh Rane and Ashutosh Mehta that impressed one and all.
The hosts took the lead before the crowd could settle down, only in the second minute of the match. Yusa Katsumi received a ball from Sehnaj Singh on the left channel, then crossing it for a lurking Duffy who got past Kingsley Eze to score off a stooping header.
Bagan were on fire as five minutes later, Jeje took a swipe from the centre circle which tested keeper Albino Gomes who collected the dipping ball on the goal line.
Stung by the early setback, Aizawl put their foot on the gas through Albert Zohmingmawia down the right wing, as he kept Subhashis Bose on his toes.
Aizawl’s Ashutosh Mehta also looked out of sorts playing in defence for the first time in the league.
Bagan had a glorious chance to double their tally in the 24th minute when Bose’s low cross was fisted out by Gomes but only as far as Prabir who had an open net in front of him but skied his attempt for a throw in.
In the 27th minute, Alfred Jaryan had a good chance to equalise from just outside the box with a dipping effort which fizzed just over.
But the visitors, who started the match as second in the points table, drew level four minutes to halftime when Kamo Bayi squared the ball from inside the box to leave Debjit Mazumder hugging the turf with Rane prodding into an open goal.
Bagan were dented at the stroke of halftime when Kingshuk Debnath picked up a knock and had to be replaced by Bikramjit Singh.
It was all even at 1-1 when the teams went into halftime.
In the 55th minute, coach Sanjoy Sen replaced Sehnaj with Pronay Halder as Bagan looked to regain the advantage.
In the 63rd minute, Jeje scored with a delectable left-footer off a Prabir Das square ball. It was Pronay Halder who deserves a chunk of the credit though for his beautiful through ball to Prabir.
Tempers flared as Prabir, who made a jinking solo run inside the box soon after the goal, got involved in a skirmish with Lalruatthara with both going into the referee’s book.
Aizawl, showing why they are where they are on the table, came back once again, this time Mehta heading in a Rane corner to make it 2-2 and keep the game on the boil.
But the former Mumbai FC man turned villain four minutes later, bringing down Katsumi inside the box to hand the rivals a penalty. Duffy coolly tucked in from the spot and Bagan saved the blushes, keeping the pressure on their arch-rivals who remained on top owing to better goal difference, playing one match more.
(Report & Photo courtesy: I-League Media)