Margao: Mohun Bagan clinched a thriller in the ONGC I-League, beating Salgaocar 5-4 at the Nehru Stadium on Saturday.
Mohun Bagan, who dominated in the first half, scored through Bhaichung Bhutia (3rd), Jose Ramirez Barreto (32nd, 35th), Jonathon Bobo (47th) and substitute James Singh (70th). Salgaocar fought back in the second half and reduced the margin through Boniface Ambani (13th) and Felix Chimaokwus strikes in the 20th, 52th and 65th minutes.
The win took Mohun Bagan to eight points from seven matches, while Salgaocar remained rooted at the bottom with three.
Mohun Bagan coach Carlos Roberto Pereira, who was feeling the heat following a 0-2 loss against champions Dempo and a 2-2 result with Churchill Brothers, must now return to Calcutta a relieved man after Saturdays victory.
Mohun Bagan exposed Salgaocars fragile defence to take an early lead in the third minute. Barreto, who combined well with Bhaichung, received a pass from Bobo inside the box, dodged a defender and took a crack at the goal which keeper Milagrio Medeira blocked it. The ball travelled to an unmarked Bhaichung who tapped it into the open net.
Salgaocar, however, quickly found the equaliser in the 13th minute. Mohun Bagan goalie Sangram Mukherjee unnecessarily came out of his line following a long lob into the box from Felix. Ambani, taking Peter Odafe in his stride, easily got past Sangram to place the ball into the empty net.
Felix, who was later adjudged Man of the Match, then put Salgaocar ahead within seven minutes after he earned a penalty when defender Rauf Khan tripped him from behind.
Pereira, desperately looking for a turnaround in Goa, brought in P.C. Lalawmpuia in place of Lalkamal Bhoumick. The speedy Manipuri winger immediately made his presence felt.
In the 32nd minute, a move from the right saw Bobo sending a cross to Lalawmpuia, who took a diagonal shot which Barreto redirected towards the goal from the other end.
Three minutes later, a combined move between Barreto and Lalawmpuia produced Mohun Bagans third goal. Lalawmpuia floated a cross from the left and the Brazilians powerful header gave the rival keeper Medeira no chance to react.
Bobo then got into the act, increasing the lead at the stroke of lemon break when he headed the ball into the net off a flag-kick taken by Dharamjit Singh.
Trailing by 2-4, Salgaocar went all out and Felix restored parity scoring two goals to record his first hattrick.
First, he beat Sangram in the air off a free-kick in the 47th minute and then completed the hattrick and equaliser for his team with a left footer in the 52nd minute. James, however, ensured Mohun Bagan had the last laugh, scoring the eventual winner from a free-kick. (Agencies)