Mohun Bagan managed to notch up their fifth victory of the I-League campaign, as a Yusa Katsumi goal proved to be enough to defeat Sporting Clube de Goa, at the Barasat Stadium, on Saturday.
While Bagan manager Sanjoy Sen was absent from the dugout due to illness, the Green and Maroon brigade made quite a few changes to their starting XI, with Brendon Fernandes, Raju Gaikwad, and Pronay Haldar getting starts.
Both the teams looked lively in the opening exchanges, with Mohun Bagan looking to pin their opponents into their defensive third. As we have seen in most of Mohun Bagan’s games, Sony Norde has been the focal point of the attacks in most of the matches.
The Sporting players had chances of their own, with the likes of Nico Fernandes, Ganesh Thakur, Odafa Okolie, and Glan Martins troubling Mohun Bagan custodian Debjit Majumder. The Mohun Bagan defensive pairing of Luciano Sabrosa and Kingshuk Debnath held on however, to reach the 45 minute mark without conceding any goals.
The match swayed to and fro on both sides of the pitch after the two sides came back from the half time break, and it was now the visitors, who looked to threaten more.
Just like the previous match Mohun Bagan’s star striker Cornell Glen was more or less ineffective in the game, and was replaced on the 61st minute. Manager for the day Dr Protim Ray seemed to prefer Balwant Singh up front alongside Jeje Lalpekhlua, for the last half an hour of the game.
The 4-4-2 formation that Mohun Bagan like to play leaves some space between the midfield and the defence, and Glan Martins was exploiting that space to great effect in the second half. The under-22 player even got a good chance to score himself, as he got a layoff from the edge of the penalty area. However, his shot lacked the power and conviction and Debjit easily latched on to the ball.
Soon after however, Mohun Bagan showed that they are well and truly championship material, as captain Yusa Katsumi scored after a bit of confusion inside the Sporting box. The Japanese playmaker had originally crossed the ball into, as the ball landed near Sony Norde on the far side of the box. The Haitian winger jinked past a defender, but soon found himself running down a cul-de-sac, and thus turned backwards, and sent in a cross of his own. Amidst all the confusion within the box, Jeje mistimed the header from the cross, as the ball kindly landed at Katsumi’s feet for the Mohun Bagan captain to calmly slot it into the net. There was a hint of offside in the goal, but replays clearly showed that Mehrajuddin Wadoo was standing near the goalline on the left flank, which rules out all doubts about the goal.
The Sporting players tried to attack the Bagan goal for the rest of the game, but the Mariners’s defence held on resolutely, in spite of a couple of nervy moments.
With this win, Mohun Bagan have clearly stamped their authority at the top of the I-League with a three-point advantage over second placed Bengaluru FC. However, their arch rivals East Bengal, who have played one match less can cut that lead down to just one point, if they beat Salgaocar at the Barasat Stadium, on Sunday.
Image Credits: I-League Media
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