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Chetri makes the difference

Calcutta: Coach Abdul Aziz Moshood was left fuming after Mohammedan Sporting’s Airtel I-League match against Bengaluru Football Club (BFC), on Wednesday. And he had every reason to be upset. Thanks to referee Ratheesh Kumar’s incompetence, Mohammedan Sporting had to leave the pitch with their shoulders drooping. It’s not that the visitors did not deserve the 3-2 victory, at the Salt Lake Stadium, but it came with liberal help from the referee.

Mohammedan Sporting were denied two penalties — first in the 10th minute and the next one at the fag-end of the match — and that was enough for Sunil Chetri and company to record their fourth away win on the trot.

Penn Orji was deliberately pushed by Curtis Osano inside the box, but Ratheesh waved ‘play-on’. And then when Mohammedan Sporting pressed hard for their third goal, Samson Ramengmawia was brought down by a Bengaluru defender. This time also the referee turned a blind eye though the Mohammedan Sporting players protested vehemently.

“If the refereeing continues to be like this, Indian football will never improve. I am aghast… The referee killed the game,” Moshood said, seething with anger, in the media conference room.

Irate fans went berserk, breaking window panes, attacking mediapersons and hurling chairs. After a mild lathi charge, normalcy returned.

It was an entertaining and intense match with both teams putting up a great display. Probably the motley crowd on Wednesday witnessed one of the best matches of this I-League.

Bengaluru got off on a perfect note when, from a well-worked short corner routine, John Menyongar rifled in an opener in the 21st minute. Receiving the ball from Beikhokhei Beingaichho, the diminutive Liberian turned Ishfaq Ahmed the wrong way in the box before firing low with the left foot.

As Bengaluru FC seemed set to carry the lead into half time, Pawan Kumar made a hash of what was a simple collection. A harmless punt came off Joshimar’s boot and bounced straight to Pawan. The goalkeeper suffered a momentary lapse of concentration and the ball slipped out of his hands and nestled in the net. Mohammedan Sporting could not believe their luck!

Two minutes into the first half, captain Sunil Chetri scored the goal of the game. Employing a well-rehearsed training ground routine off a corner, Beikhokhei cut one back for Chetri who escaped the crowd and turned to find the ball before smashing home a 20-yard beauty that crashed into the roof of the net. It was a goal which showed why Chetri is regarded as the best Indian striker of his generation.

Chetri seems to be settling down well on the wide. Coach Ashley Westwood is using him on the left wing and Chetri after initial rustiness in the early part of the season is now doing wonders.

Mohammedan Sporting struck again in the 57th minute when Joshimar pounced on a loose ball to make it 2-2. An attack from the right saw an Ishfaq Ahmed attempt pushed away by Pawan only for the Brazilian striker to bundle home from close.

The curse of the corner once again haunted Mohammedan Sporting. In the 71st minute Beikhokhei sent in a delightful delivery and Chetri rose high to head home his eighth goal of the season. Mohammedan Sporting went all-out for the equaliser, but then they were undone by inept refereeing.

TEAMS

Bengaluru FC: Pawan Kumar (Bruno Colaco 86); Rino Anto, Curtis Osano, John Johnson, Lalrozama Fanai (Vishal Kumar 65); Beikhokhei Beingaichho (Robin Singh 80), Darren Caldeira, John Menyongar, Sean Rooney, Sunil Chetri, Thoi Singh.

Mohammedan Sporting: Ashok Singh; Colin Abranches, Luciano Sabrosa, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Nirmal Chetri, Ishfaq Ahmed, Samson Ramengmawia, Rakesh Masih (Manish Maithani 55), Penn Orji, Ashim Biswas (Syed Rahim Nabi 51), Joshimar.

Referee: Ratheesh Kumar

MoM: Sean Rooney