Mohun Bagan maintained their all-win record in the current Kolkata Premier League with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Peerless SC today at home. With this they move on to the top of the league table, two points clear of Chirag United.
Mohun Bagan started the match slowly, and it took almost ten minutes to make the first clear attempt at the Peerless goal, when a Suoeka try went wide. Five minutes later Tomba cut in from the right but his effort was collected comfortably by the keeper. Then in the 18th minute came the first real attempt – a superb Suoeka free-kick was brilliantly saved by the Peerless keeper, low down to his right. Soon another save followed, this time from a Souvik long-ranger. In the 25th minute Ishfaq moved down the left flank and sent in a splendid cross, which Suoeka just failed to reach. Barely a minute later Chiddi had a good chance, but failed to get past the keeper. Then on the half-hour mark, Suoeka crossed brilliantly from the right, Chiddi rose gracefully to head it, the ball beat the keeper at last, but hit the bar and bounced back! A minute later Suoeka sprinted forward to reach a Chiddi through, but could not connect properly with his left foot. The pressure was mounting, but the breakthrough was just not coming!
Then, after a brief lull in the attack, a wonderful five-man move brought the Mohun Bagan gallery to life! Suoeka collected a loose ball in the middle of the park and found Souvik, whose one-touch pass found Ishfaq. Ishfaq took his time as he carried the ball upto the edge of the penalty area and released a weighted pass to his left which was brilliantly chased down near the Peerless goal line by the overlapping Biswajit Saha. He in turn crossed the ball back into the six yard box and Chiddi, who else, met it with a firm shot which went in off the Keeper’s left hand. The deadlock was broken, at last! (1-0). This was Chiddi’s 20th goal for his team, in his 19th game of the season. No wonder he is now known as the Mohun Bagan Goal Machine!
Bagan went into half-time with that one goal lead. At resumption, Lalramluaha was replaced by Mickey Fernandes. Initially the move seemed to backfire, as Mickey failed to perform the midfiled holding role that Lalram did fairly adequately in the first half. For a while, Peerless dominated proceedings, forcing a couple of corners, and a few more moves into the Mohun Bagan area. But the defence held firm, with Mandi and Azim leading the way.
About twenty minutes into the second half, Mohun Bagan found their rhythm again, with Mickey slowly coming out of his shell to help the tireless Souvik control the midfield. Tomba and Ishfaq continued their runs down the two flanks, and Suoeka was a constant source of irritation to the Peerless defence, who were already quite busy marking Chiddi. Mohun Bagan forced a few corners and free-kicks and there were some half chances created, but somehow Peerless survived.
Half an hour into the second half, Snehasish Chakraborty replaced Ishfaq. Within five minutes came the second goal. A long ball from Souvik found Chiddi who had drifted to the left. Chiddi controlled the ball beautifully, beat off the challenges from two defenders and sent in a hard cross which was met by a flying header from Suoeka as he glanced the ball superbly to the keeper’s left. (2-0). What a wonderful way for Suoeka to begin his goal hunt for his new club. The Japanese was visibly elated by his first goal, and the thousands of cheering fans would like to believe that this was only the first of many such wonderful goals by this diminutive oriental.
Another period of Peerless pressure followed, and Shilton was forced to make a brilliant save, diving to his right, from a low header off a lobbed cross from the right. Then another cross from the right totally foxed Shilton, but fortunately Zenith was at hand to clear the ball from right in front of the Bagan goal. However, the attacks petered out after that as Bagan’s defence and midfield once again settled down to assume control.
Branco replaced Tomba for the last few minutes, as Karim went for the kill. In the 90th minute Snehasish ran brilliantly down the left from his own half right to the Peerless goal line but his cross went abegging. Then in the 2nd minute of injury time Mickey collected the ball in the midfield and sent in a through which was reached by the overlapping Biswajit, who calmly placed the ball in past the hapless keeper. (3-0). Biswajit’s goal had the stamp of an experienced striker – he had scored a similar goal in Bagan’s first practice match of the season – against Customs. He also played a significant role in today’s opening goal. If only his defensive capabilities were as good!
Ryuji Suoeka was named Man-of-the-Match for his constant running and that wonderful goal, but there were many other heroes for Mohun Bagan today, including the mercurial Chiddi, of course, who broke the stalemate. Then there was the teenager Souvik, who continues to impress with his skill, stamina and determination to do well. He did see a yellow card in the second half, though, when he kicked the ball away needlessly after the referee has blown his whistle. Tomba was quietly impressive, as he slowly comes back into rhythm after a lengthy lay-off. In defence Azim and Mandi were quite solid, and Zenith was impressive in spurts. Shilton, except on that single occasion when he misjudged the flight and almost let in a goal, looked confident and skillful. Ishfaq, too showed glimpses of his class and resolve, though he wasn’t consistent. All in all, it was a satisfactory day for Mohun Bagan, and Karim Bencharifa can now fly to Singapore to meet his family in a positive frame of mind.
Team: Shilton Paul; Zenith Mashangwa, Sagram Mandi, Shaikh Azim, Biswajit Saha; Tomba Singh (Branco Cardozo), Souvik Chakraborty, Lalramluaha (Mickey Fernandes), Ishfaq Ahmed (Snehasish Chakraborty); Chiddi Edeh, Ryuji Suoeka.
Scorers: Chiddi Edeh-1, Ryuji Suoeka-1, Biswajit Saha-1.
Man-of-the-Match – Ryuji Suoeka.