Mohun Bagan 2-2 Mumbai FC : Bagan Stutter Again
A late strike from Balwant Singh saved Bagan the blushes as they drew 2-2 against Mumbai FC in a riveting Hero I-League encounter at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium on Wednesday.
Pritam Kotal drew first blood in the 12th minute but two quick strikes by Thoi Singh (20′) and Victorino Fernandes (22′) saw Mumbai take the lead before Balwant restored parity in the 89th minute.
Bagan gaffer made three changes to his lineup that lost to Churchill Brothers in their last match.
Sehnaj, Souvik Charkrabarti and Balwant Singh returned to the starting lineup.
Mumbai, on the other hand, started with a 4-4-2 formation with Baljit and Victorino upfront.
The match got off to a flying start with Bagan having the upper hand. Sony Norde weaved his magic on the left wing, creating nervy moments for the Mumbai defence.
It took Bagan just 12 minutes to break the deadlock. Sony's corner from the left was flicked on by Katsumi Yusa before a poaching Pritam Kotal blasted it at the back of the net, giving Bagan the all important lead.
Bagan's lead, however, was short-lived as Mumbai pulled one back in the 20th minute, against the run of play.
Pratesh Shirodkar's misdirected shot found Thoi Singh in space, who somehow placed the ball with an outstretched left foot over the keeper, to restore parity.
A minute later, Mumbai surprisingly took the lead, taking advantage of another defensive lapse from Bagan. Reagan Singh's low cross from the right was met by an onrushing Victorino Fernandes who calmly netted a tap-in.
Mumbai, meanwhile, wrecked havoc as Bagan failed to contain Mumbai's darting runs of Mumbai attackers.
Mumbai could have increased their lead in the 31st minute of the match but Victorino failed to convert an easy opportunity, blasting the ball over the bar. Bagan gaffer Sanjoy Sen was forced to sub off Debjit Majumdar with Shilton Paul, owing to an injury in the 35th minute.
In first half added time, Shilton was called into action for the first time since coming on, saving well from Baljit’s close range effort.
Sanjoy Sen, looking to alter the course of the match, threw in Prabir Das in place of Sehnaj Singh with Katsumi deployed in midfield along with Souvik Chakrabarti.
There was drama post the hour mark when Kattimani collected a back pass from former India international Mehrajuddin Wadoo using his hands drawing an indirect free kick inside the area. Nothing though came off it as Mumbai defenders blocked the shot from Norde.
Bagan were the dominant team in the second half and in the 89th minute they finally got their reward. Norde swept in a delicious cross for Balwant at the back post to nod in past Kattimani, who was left stranded. The 30-year old Punjab lad celebrated as the home team heaved a collective sigh of relief.
Incidentally, Mohun Bagan had to leave the pitch sharing the spoils with Mumbai FC in the first leg also.
With the draw, Mohun Bagan are still rooted to the third spot with 22 points from 11 matches while Mumbai FC improved their ranking by one place to rise to the ninth spot with 10 points playing two matches more.