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Bagan win ensures play-off vs East Bengal
- SUPER DIVISION - Brazilian duo toys with Mohammedan AC

Calcutta: Mohun Bagan put the wild oscillation of the CFL Super Division championship leg into perspective, notching up a comfortable 2-0 win over Mohammedan AC at Salt Lake Stadium on Monday and thereby ensuring a play-off final with arch-rivals East Bengal.

The Brazilian duo — Jose Ramirez Barreto and Marcos Parreira — scored in a span of three minutes in the opening session as Mohun Bagan finished the leg with 39 points. Defending champions East Bengal are on 38 from 15 matches, and will take on Tollygunge Agragami on Tuesday. The verdict of that match, however, has no bearing on the fate of the league, at least as of now.

Mohammedan AC finished at the bottom of the Super Six stage, with 18 points from 16 ties.

Mohun Bagan, who pushed themselves in a tight corner following their controversial 1-1 draw with Mohammedan Sporting in the previous match, had no other option but to win Monday’s match to stay in contention. And they started in such a fashion, which clearly exemplified the need of the hour — energetic, bold and beautiful in search of goals.

With the Brazilian pair upfront, coach Aloke Mukherjee fielded a five-man army in the midfield. Deep defender Deb Kumar Shasmal and right-back Babun Kar also showed keen interest in moving up, producing such a stage in the attacking third, where the opponents were often outnumbered. The result was obvious — an unrelenting flow of attacks keeping Mohammedan AC fortress on tenterhooks. In the ninth minute, Barreto headed over the bar, when his countrymate fed him off a Rennedy Singh deep cross from the right. Within five minutes, Mohun Bagan captain took a swerving free-kick, which went just off the far post.

Then Mehtab Hussein cut in nicely from the right. But the right back, instead of dodging past advancing goalkeeper Shankar Dey, squared it for the advancing Mohun Bagan captain. Mohammedan AC fullback Sheikh Sarwar stretched himself in time to deny Rennedy and Dey, in the meantime, regained his position to block Rishi Kapoor’s powerful left-footer.

Kapoor’s another attempted cross brushed past the crosspiece while Barreto surprised himself as well as his teammates, failing to find target with the goalkeeper completely at his mercy.

Mohun Bagan’s continuous flow of penetration was emphatic and overpowering, and it was bit surprising that they had to wait till the 36th minute to open the floodgates.

Marcos, who clearly emerged the man of the moment, brilliantly fed Babun on the right and the diminutive back penetrated the box in a quick thrust. Up came his pass from the touchline and Barreto was there to jab in from close.

Three minutes later, it was now Barreto’s turn to complement his fellow Brazilian. His low inviting cross from the right was first missed by Mehtab, but Marcos, lurking in the far end, found the target with a couching header.

The change of side hardly brought about a shift in the existing pattern of the game. And it was only in the closing stages of the match did Mohammedan AC manage to find the rivals’ net, but the referee Biswajit Bera, who arrived along with other match officials at the ground 17 minutes after the scheduled kick-off time, ruled it out on account of a foul.

Dora mistakenly handed a backpass from Hardeep Singh Saini, resulting in an indirect free-kick inside the box. Arup Sarkar slotted the ball in after receiving pass from Soumitra Chakraborty, but Bera discerned that a Mohammedan AC player tried to prevent the rival players from coming out of the wall and subsequently blew the whistle for the foul.

Teams

Mohun Bagan: Prasanta Dora; Babun Kar, Sanjeev Maria, Debkumar Shasmal, Manitombi Singh (Bhola Dey, 88); Mehtab Hussein, Hardeep Singh Saini, Rennedy Singh, Rishi Kapoor; Jose Ramirez Barreto (Sunil Chhetri, 68), Marcos Parreira (Shyam Babu Raut, 81).

Mohammedan AC: Shankar Dey, Sheikh Sarwar (Reaz-ul Mustafa, 37), Shariat Reza, Md. Ali Reza, Soumik Dey; Shakeel Ahmed (Aby Benjamin, 44), Soumitra Chakraborty, Subrata Guha, Lowell Gabenga (Swarup Chatterjee, 71), Nazim-ul Haq, Arup Sarkar.

Referee: Biswajit Bera.

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