Calcutta: As expected, the Salt Lake Stadium wore a barren look on Wednesday when action resumed within 24 hours after the decibel levels knew no bounds during East Bengal’s AFC Cup return leg semi-final tie.
However, the handful of spectators that had gathered at the venue for the Airtel I-League Round V match between McDowell Mohun Bagan and Salgaocar enjoyed their time out in the middle as Karim Bencharifa’s men finally recorded a victory.
Playing much better football than in their last four matches, Bagan rode strikes from C.S. Sabeeth and Katsumi Yusa to record a 2-1 win over Salgaocar who had got most things right in the competition till Wednesday evening.
By Bencharifa’s own admission, the win was “more than a relief” and keeps his team in a far better state of mind before Saturday’s away encounter against Mumbai FC.
They are now at No.9 in the league table, while Salgaocar slump to the second position, three points behind toppers Bangalore FC (13 points).
After a goalless first half, Sabeeth drew first blood for the hosts in the 54 th minute. With Nicolau Colaco unable to clear Denson Devadas’ aerial ball, it found Sabeeth, who smartly chipped the ball over the advancing Salgaocar ’keeper as Bagan led 1-0.
Despite striker Eric Muranda taken off due to a hamstring injury, Bagan still managed to shock the Goans as Katsumi unleashed a pile-driver to double the lead in the 76th minute.
Salgaocar were awarded a penalty three minutes before regulation time and Darryl Duffy converted it to reduce the margin. A second yellow card shown to Denson shortly afterwards got Bagan down to 10-men. But they happened all too late.
Aniyiche Echezona’s return was also a factor that led to a much-improved show from the green-and-maroon defence.