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Bagan in fine form on road to Derby

- Things seem to be falling in place: Karim
Okolie Odafe celebrates with Manish Bhargav, at the Salt Lake Stadium, on Monday. A Telegraph picture

Calcutta: With barely five days remaining for the much-awaited Derby, McDowell Mohun Bagan will be reasonably pleased with their current showing.

In their last competitive appearance before the clash against arch-rivals East Bengal, Bagan trounced Techno Aryan 4-1 in a CFL Premier Division Super Nine game, at the Salt Lake Stadium, on Monday.

Importantly, this comprehensive win will keep Bagan in good shape, more so, as the big teams have often found Aryan to be a tough nut to crack in the recent past.

There wasn’t enough bite in Bagan’s attacks for a better part of the first session, but Okolie Odafe and Manish Bhargav struck in quick succession to give the team a 2-0 lead at the halfway stage.

Receiving Manish Maithani, Odafe turned towards his right to leave his marker dazed and slotted home a left-footer in the 34th minute. Moments before half-time, Bagan doubled their lead as Bhargav, on receiving the ball from Odafe, evaded Aryan defenders comfortably before placing it perfectly.

With Quinton Jacobs putting up a much-improved show in the midfield after resumption, Bagan got their third goal with Tolgay Ozebe finding the target in the 66th minute. Quinton floated one in from the left flank, which found Tolgay. And he did the needful with a fine header.

Aryan, missing the services of their foreigners Agwu Richard and Michael Tayo — Richard opting out of the match because of an “offer” from Air India and Tayo for reasons unknown to even Aryan coach Raghu Nandy — pulled one back towards the end, with Maidul Mallick converting off a rebound.

However, defender Mehrajuddin Wadoo, scoring after years, was the icing on the cake for Bagan.

“I’m happy with how things went for us in this game. I wanted to assess the match-fitness of some of our players and how well Odafe and Tolgay are working as a combination. “It’s good that things seem to be falling in place before the Derby,” Bagan coach Karim Bencharifa said.

TEAMS

Mohun Bagan: Shilton Paul, Aiborlang Khongjee (Snehasish Chakraborty, 58 th minute), Khelemba Meetei, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Rajib Ghosh, Manish Maithani, Rakesh Masih, Quinton Jacobs, Manish Bhargav, Tolgay Ozebe (C. Sabeeth, 79th minute), Okolie Odafe (Denson Devadas, 69 th minute)

Aryan: Sibram Dey, Subhankar Nag, Srikanta Koley, Saikat Patra (Ashim Das, 67 th minute), Ainish Zamadar, Ram Malik, Biswadeep Das (Pradip Roy, 63rd minute), Pankaj Moulla, Sukanta Banerjee, Maidul Mallick, Biswarup Deb

Referee: Prabir Dhar