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East Bengal held by RUFC; victory for Mohun Bagan

James Moga

Calcutta: Defending champions East Bengal were left to rue their first-half penalty miss as they failed to get the better of Rangadajied United Football Club (RUFC) in a Group B encounter of the Federation Cup.

Wednesday’s 1-1 stalemate in Manjeri, has surely dented East Bengal’s hopes making the grade. They now have to win both the matches against Bengaluru FC and Sporting Club de Goa.

While South Korean Kim Son Yong gave Rangadajied the lead in the 20th minute, East Bengal’s James Moga equalised in the 56th minute. Edeh Chidi muffed from the spot.

Edmar Figueira sent Kim Song Yong in the clear with the latter applying the deft finishing touch to stab home.

The Santosh Kashyap-coached outfit were the better side in the first half, playing at a frenetic pace and attacking down the flanks. East Bengal saw the ball more, but could not breach RUFC defence.

The defending champions’ best chance came in the 43rd minute when they were awarded a penalty after Moga was brought down by Tomba Singh inside the box.

But much to their disappointment, Edeh skied his spot kick.

The Armando Colaco managed outfit had a Ryuji Sueoka header disallowed too as referee Srikrishna halted play for a foul on goalkeeper Surjaya.

East Bengal equalised with Moga finding the back of the net with a sweetly timed left-footer off a goalmouth melee.

In Kochi, a first-half strike by Christopher Chizoba saw Mohun Bagan beat Mumbai FC 1-0 in a Group C.

Having been eliminated from the group stage for the last two editions, Mohun Bagan were determined to make a good start but were dealt a blow before the game as captain Okolie Odafe could only make the bench.

Stand-in captain and goalkeeper Shilton Paul made a couple of important saves early on before Katsumi Yusa had the Calcutta club’s first real effort of the match. The Japanese went on a brilliant solo run, but his shot was saved on to the bar by Nidhinlal.

Bagan took the lead when Katsumi sent Christopher clean through on goal with a delightful pass and the Nigerian showed great composure to find the back of the net.

Mumbai FC couldn’t respond in the first half and coach Khalid Jamil brought in newly-signed Nigerian striker Henry Ezeh in place of defender Rahul Bheke. That substitution saw Mumbai put a lot of pressure on the Bagan goal, but their finishing was poor.

At the other end though, Mohun Bagan squandered plenty of chances.

First Pankaj Moula was sent free in the box by Katsum but the youngster could only force a routine save from Nidhinlal. Moula then turned provider for substitute Ram Malik who somehow missed from close range.

Christopher also could have doubled the lead, but the Nigerian delayed and scuffed his shot.

Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Shilton had to remain alert until the last minute to preserve the clean sheet but Mumbai’s Ezeh wasted a couple of golden opportunities as he couldn’t even hit the target despite being unmarked.