| Jose Ramirez Barreto beats Habeeb Adekunle to the ball at the Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Calcutta: Mohun Bagan survived a barrage of Mohammedan Sporting onslaughts in the second-half before scraping through to a 1-0 win in their CFL Super Division clash at Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday.
The matchwinner, which came about in the 28th minute, was occasioned by one of the few chances Aloke Mukherjee’s side enjoyed in the match.
Actually, it was more of Jose Ramirez Barreto’s amazing ability to make full use of an opportunity than anything else, on the back of which the team exacted revenge of their Federation Cup loss to the black-and-white brigade.
Captain Rennedy Singh’s long ball from the centre circle picked Barreto near the box. The Brazilian hoodwinked marker Iqbal Shahnawaz Khan with a sudden acceleration and proceeded towards the left pocket of the box.
As the other defenders were too far away to challenge him and goalkeeper Bivash Ghosh was drawn out of his line, Barreto coolly placed in the ball past Bivash with his left foot.
Mohun Bagan, thus, finished the round-robin phase of the Super Division with 28 points from 11 matches. They are five points behind leaders East Bengal, who routed Port Trust 3-0 in another match of the day.
Mohammedan Sporting are in the third place, with 18 points from 10 matches while Mohammedan AC (16 off 10), Tollygunge Agragami (15 off 10), Ever-Ready (14 off 10) and Railway FC (12 off 10) are the front-runners to book berths in the Super Six stage.
The match was also marked by Mohammedan Sporting forward Sheikh Tarif Ahmed’s sad departure from the field in the seventh minute.
On receiving a strong challenge from Mohun Bagan central defender Harpreet Singh, the player immediately fell unconscious on the ground. Other players and officials soon rushed in to his rescue, and he was finally taken away by ambulance to a nearby hospital.
Mohammedan Sporting, however, remained undaunted in the face of that early setback, coupled with Barreto’s goal. Skipper Dipendu Biswas was trying hard to make his presence felt in the rival box.
Amjad Ali Khan transformed himself into an attacking rightback, while Bungo Singh and substitute Satish Minz gelled together well in feeding more balls to Dipendu. In the 52nd minute, Bungo set up a nice ball for Minz, but the latter failed to get past Harpreet from an advantageous situation.
Then, Amjad, loping up, sent in a beautiful cross from the touchline. Dipendu failed to control the ball properly while Minz and Trijit Das, who substituted injured Ahmed, reacted late.
Mohun Bagan were living dangerously at that time as Bungo’s attempt off another Amjad cross whistled over the bar while Minz and Dipendu failing to find target in quick succession.
Sensing danger, Aloke introduced defender Bhola Dey at the expense of lone striker Sunil Chhetri. But Minz this time played the role of a provider. However, Neither Dipendu nor Bungo was able to make any contact with his diagonal low centre across the six-yard box.
In injury time, Mohun Bagan, however, were denied twice by the woodwork, Rennedy and Barreto being the unfortunate men. The Brazilian also shot straight to Bivash on another occasion.
However, it was ultimately Barreto’s conversion of the first of these three chances that made all the difference. Player ‘stable’
Ahmed suffered nasal fracture, but his condition is stable, according to a Suraksha Hospital spokesman, where he’s undergoing treatment. “It’s a common injury for any player in a body-contact game. However, a CT scan, done on him, has revealed nothing serious. Moreover, his other organs are also functioning well. He’s stable now,” Dr. Rajarshi Roy, who’s attending Ahmed, said.
Ahmed will be under observation “for the next 48 hours” and may be out of football for a couple of months.
Mohun Bagan: Prasanta Dora; Babun Kar, Harpreet Singh, Debkumar Sasmal, Palash Karmakar; Mehtab Hossain, Edward Akuneto, Rennedy Singh, Rishi Kapoor (Manitombi Singh, 59), Jose Ramirez Barreto, Sunil Chhetri (Bhola Dey, 80).
Mohammedan Sporting: Bivash Ghosh; Amjad Ali Khan, Madhab Das, Habeeb Adekunle, Momocha Singh; Bungo Singh, Amandeep Singh (Satish Minz, 22), Iqbal Shahnawaz Khan, Khaled Siddiqui; Sk Tarif Ahmed (Trijit Das, 10; Abdul Rauf Khan, 71), Dipendu Biswas.
Referee: Gopinath Pyne.