Mohun Bagan beat Chirag United 2-1 today in their 18th round I league match, Baichung scored both the goals for Mariners. Mohun Bagan could not play well in first half but regained control after lemon break. Mohun Bagan will play next againt JCT on March 28th in Ludhiana. Mohun Bagan now has 36 points from 18 matches.

Mohun Bagan beat Chirag United 2-1 today in their 18th round I league match, Baichung scored both the goals for Mariners. Mohun Bagan could not play well in first half but regained control after lemon break.

 In the 1st minute itself, Mohun Bagan got a free kick near the half line. Marcos took the shot that went inside box which Baichung headed towards Barreto but it was cleared for safety by Chirag defence. The two side backs of Mohun Bagan, Habibur and Mohanraj were clearly off-form today and fleet-footed Snehasish and Gouranga looked to pile pressure down the flanks and often delivered good crosses. In 7th minute, Chirag got the first chance when Gouranga crossed from right side and Snehasish could not head the ball properly. Within 2 minutes, from counter attack, Manju made a down the middle run and gave a through pass to Baichung but Arnab Mandal made a timely tackle to avert danger. Chirag had greater possession of ball till 30th minute but Dipak had a great match in defence and foiled many Chirag attacks. Sangram though did not have to make any good saves. In 30th minute, Barreto took a center from right side which Baichung tried to take a shot but it was cleared by defence, ball went to Ishfaq in left flank who floated the ball towards goal, Louis headed the ball and it ballooned up and went to Rakesh who was standing at the edge of the box. Rakesh let fly a pile driver which was going in but unluckily for Mariners it hit a defender and deflected off for corner. Marcos took the corner which came to Tulunga who harmlessly lobbed the ball that went straight to goalkeeper. Within 3 minutes, Habibur took a center from right side, Tulunga back headed the ball towards Barreto but he could not get position to take the shot inside box, Ishfaq passed the ball to Marcos but he took a very poor shot that went straight to goalkeeper. In an attempt to clear the ball, Louis almost conceded an own goal. Chirag got a good chance in 38th minute. Gouranga was again in thick of action when his left footed center went towards Saini but Manju made a brilliant clearance. Mohun Bagan scored the first goal of the match in 44th minute. Marcos and Ishfaq took the short corner and off Marcos center, Baichung headed the ball (see picture below) which deflected off Arnab Mandal’s leg and went inside goal.  Mariners came back strongly in the match after the initial domination of proceedings by Chirag and went into lemon break 1-0 up.

                                                  BAICHUNG SCORING THE FIRST GOAL FOR MOHUN BAGAN

After the change of ends, Snehasish made a good run but his center was cleared by Dipak for safety in 50th minute. In 56th minute, from Baichung the ball went to Tulunga via Marcos in right side but his center was nicely intercepted by Chirag defence. Bhaichung Bhutia then sent in a throughball for Barreto who made an angular run from right to left and his shot just missed target, going over crossbar. In 68th minute, Marcos took a corner that was headed out by Louis, the loose ball went to Mohanraj outside box, his thumping shot was saved by Ravikanta stretching to left side. In the next minute, Gouranga made a solo effort by dribbling past 2 players but his shot went wide. In 73rd minute, Barreto released the ball for Baichung who took the ball inside box and from an acute angle tried to place the ball in far corner, but goalkeeper made a good save diving towards right. In 76th minute, Chirag missed the easiest chance of the match when Mohanraj made a grave error and his clearance went straight to Sankar Oraon, who shot the ball soaring over the bar with goalkeeper at his mercy. Chirag equalized in 78th minute, when from a long ball, Sankar backheaded towards Snehasish, Habibur failed to clear the ball and Snehasish took a left footed shot that beat goalkeeper and went to far corner of post making the scoreline 1-1. Mohun Bagan made it 2-1 in the next minute itself. They got a free kick when Barreto was fouled. Marcos again took a neat free kick that swerved and went to Baichung who headed the ball to perfection and the goalkeeper had absolutely no chance whatsoever to save the ball, score became 2-1 in favor of Mohun Bagan. In 85th minute, Baichung scored another goal, this time the goal was even better than the last one, he spot jumped over his defender and headed the ball in off a Rakesh center but linesman, for reason better known to him, raised the flag and disallowed a certain goal. Television replay suggested that it was a clear goal. In injury time, Chirag got their last chance when they got a direct free kick just outside the box, but Gouranga’s shot hit the wall.



Mohun Bagan thus emerged winners and now has 36 points from 18 matches. Churchill is leading the table with 42 points from 20 matches. Mohun Bagan will next play against JCT on March 28th. They will have to win their remaining 4 matches and hope that Churchill lose point either against Air India or Mohammedan Sporting. Most importantly, none of Mohun Bagan players have got any booking today.

Sangram looked confident throughout the match and did not have to make any good save. In defence, Dipak was in supreme form today in stopper position, well supported by Manju. Mohanraj and Habibur both were shaky today and made far too many mistakes. Habibur can be partly blamed for the goal which Mariners conceded. Mohanraj though delivered few good long throws and delivered few good crosses but while defending he hardly could contain Gouranga. In first half, midfield lacked confidence and there were hardly any attacks till 30th minute, though in the second half Marcos and Masih played well. Tulunga made many mistakes before lemon break and was giving too many back passes but agains after change of ends he gathered momentum and made some good runs down the flank causing panic in Chirag defence. Ishfaq tried a lot but was not in his best of form today, but you cannot rule him out, given the amount of hard work he puts. Though many critics had criticized Baichung for attending a reality show, he showed his class by scoring two goals and scored another goal which was by mistake ruled out by linesman. It should now be clear to them that with the experience that Baichung has, missing practice once a week for 2 hours does not have any impact on his game. Recovering from injury, Barreto showed his class when he attempted a left footed shot that just missed target in 2nd half.

Talking to us after match, Karim said, "Chirag is definitely a good team, it is surprising that they are at the bottom side of table, they deserve a position somewhere in the middle. They played well today. Another important factor is that, we had lost 4 matches in a row, our confidence was down, so in first half we could not play to our potential. We made many mistakes in this half. However, we came back strongly in 2nd half and created chances, scored and won the match. We badly wanted to win this match. This will bring confidence back to our team. Now we have to win the rest of the matches. Still we are in the title race. We have seen many times in various leagues that a team can make mistake near the final round and many upset can happen. We will just have to concentrate on our game and win the remaining 4 matches."

TEAM: Sangram, Habibur (Rahul Kumar 81), Manju, Dipak, Mohanraj, Tulunga (James Singh Jr. 90+2), Masih, Marcos, Ishfaq, Barreto (Lalkamal 86), Baichung.


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