Calcutta: Walter Centeno scored off a stunning free-kick as Deportivo Saprissa defeated Mohun Bagan 1-0, in a Group B match of the IFA Shield, at the Kalyani Stadium, on Sunday.
The Costa Rican World Cupper, who had scored against Real Madrid in a Champions League match during his AEK Athens days a decade ago, curled in a superb free-kick into the far corner, beating Bagan goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya all ends up. It was in the 77th minute.
“A world class goal from a World Cupper did us inů We played really well and deserved at least a point,” Bagan coach Karim Bencharifa said.
The defeat has put Bagan in a spot of bother. Even though they have qualified for the last-four stage with six points, there is every chance of them finishing second behind Saprissa.
For, Saprissa, with four points from two matches, have one more tie to play against United Sikkim Football Club, and unless something dramatic happens, they will surely have a cakewalk. That means they will top the group and Bagan will have to play arch-rivals East Bengal in the semis. That is the last thing Bagan would want.
It took a while for Saprissa to get a measure of Bagan. And with Centeno in the middle, always guiding the youngsters, Saprissa found it easy to deal with the twin threat of Okolie Odafe and Tolgay Ozebe.
Midway through the first half Centeno, who arrived only on Saturday to bolster the team, was seen having an animated discussion with central defender Luis Solis.
Odafe was creating problems for the Saprissa defence and Bagan were fancying their chances. But once the 38-year-old had a talk with Solis everything fell into place.
Solis stood close to Odafe denying him that ‘turn’ which generally allows the Bagan captain extra space. Every time Odafe went for the ball, Solis was there to thwart him.