| Jose Ramirez Barreto of Mohun Bagan and HAL goalkeeper P Pramod in an aerial tussle during an I-League match, on Wednesday. A Telegraph picture
Calcutta: Mohun Bagans tryst with dreadful goalkeeping errors continued on Wednesday. Shilton Pauls bizarre mistake had robbed defending champions Bagan of the CFL title little over a week ago. Today, Sangram Mukherjees lazy clearance eventually proved calamitous for the city club in their I-League match against HAL on a rain-soaked afternoon at the Salt Lake Stadium.
Bagan entered Wednesdays tie without star striker Edeh Chidi. The Nigerian, nursing a hamstring niggle, keenly watched the match and twitched at every missed opportunity as if he was virtually playing the game.
Stanley Rozarios men began with gusto and despite controlling the ball for most part of the match succumbed to some electric counterattacks. HAL proved their win against JCT was no fluke. After winger Vijesh Kumars chanced strike, the visitors reaffirmed their status as giant-slayers with J. Muralis winner in teams 2-1 victory over the green and maroon brigade.
Bagan went on the offensive from the beginning and when Jayanta Sens shot whistled over the cross piece by a few millimetres, it seemed HAL was in for some early trouble. Jose Barreto, who played as a striker in Chidis absence, looked penetrative and lurked ominously at the rival defence. But the momentum tilted in the visitors favour when Kumar struck for HAL in the 22 nd minute.
Sangram miskicked Snehasish Chakrabortys back pass into Kumars foot in a fit of carelessness. The winger, who keenly waited yards outside the box, scored with a curling left-footer. Sangram was slow to react as he didnt anticipate the shot, and, by the time he dived full stretch, the ball had found the net.
Barreto proved his class with the equaliser just 10 minutes later. Murithala Alis cheeky pass inside the box took a deflection off HAL defender Liliyan Kennath. Barreto, who was running in through the left channel, wrestled past two rival defenders to thump it in.
The combination of Barreto and Murithala created a lot of opportunities but HAL defender Joseph Femi Adeolas interception in crucial moments thwarted the moves. Barreto gave it all in search of the lead and in the 73 rd minute curled one in from the left flank that ricocheted of the side post.
Sangram, after his blunder in the first-half, pulled off some brilliant saves, including a block off a Xavier Vijay Kumar blinder minutes after the lemon break. But Muralis strike in the 81 st minute sealed Bagans fate. Vijays cross from the left found RC Prakashs head and even though Sangram dived full-length to block it he couldnt quite collect it allowing Murali to hammer in the winner.
HAL: P. Pramod, R Srikanth, Liliyan Kennath (Jai Kumar, 35), Rohit Chand, Joseph Femi Adeola, J Murali, S. James Singh (R.C Prakash, 60), Vijesh Kumar (Gautam Debnath, 90), Hamza Amaba, Xavier Vijay Kumar, Malengamba Meitei.
Mohun Bagan: Sangram Mukherjee, Rahul Kumar, Harpreet Singh, Dhanarajan, Karan Atwal, Jayanta Sen (Souvik Chakraborty, 74), Manish Maithani, Snehasish Chakraborty, Ashim Biswas, Jose Barreto, Murithala Ali.
Referee: Magho Singh
MoM: J. Murali