I-League: Mohun Bagan beat Churchill to keep title hopes alive

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Vasco (Goa), March 3 (IANS) Heavyweights Mohun Bagan kept their slim chances of winning the I-League alive with a vital 2-1 victory over relegation-threatened Churchill Brothers at the Tilak Maidan here on Saturday.

Goals from Nikhil Kadam (54th minute) and Akram Moghrabi (76th) blunted Osagie Monday’s (74th) strike to secure all three points for the Kolkata heavyweights.

The result saw Mohun Bagan provisionally pip arch-rivals East Bengal (29 points from 16 matches) to the third position with 30 points from 17 games.

However, Mohun Bagan chances of winning the title will depend on whether East Bengal, second placed Neroca FC (31 points from 17 games) and league leaders Minerva Punjab FC (32 points from 17 games) slip up in their remaining matches.

As for Churchill, they will have to win their final game against Minerva to stave off relegation.

They are in the ninth place now with seventeen points and trail Chennai City FC by two points.

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Going into the game, Churchill were forced into a change as the injured Wayne Vaz was replaced by P.M. Britto. Mohun Bagan had two changes from their match against Indian Arrows at the same venue.

Gurjinder Kumar who had impressed in that game was given a start in place of Ricky Lallawmawma and skipper Kinshuk Debnath was restored into the heart of the defence with Rana Gharami taken off.

With the result of the game having a major of bearing on both teams, it was Mohun Bagan who had the first sight of goal.

Moghrabi tried a cheeky back-heel which didn’t come off in the 10th minute. Churchill had the bulk of possession and dominated the half but Mohun Bagan held on as first-half ended 0-0.

Churchill dominated the visitors in the first half with repeated attacks down the left and the pace of their forwards causing all sorts of problems for the Mohun Bagan defenders.

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The hosts breached the Mohun Bagan defence once in the first half but the referee disallowed the goal because of a foul by Frincis on Kingshuk Debnath.

All the action was reserved for the second half. At the onset of the second half, Churchill Brothers continued from where they left.

They laid siege to the Bagan defence; however, Bagan hit them on the counter and scored in the 54th minute.

Dipanda Dicka was picked out on the right channel with a ball from the middle. Osagia Monday tried to close him down while Eldor Hussein was caught out of position.

Dicka capitalised and squared the ball to an unmarked Kadam who drilled the ball into the net.

Churchill kept fighting and they got the equaliser in the 74th minute. Alfred Fernandes made a bold tactical decision as he brought on central defender Pawan Kumar and pushed Monday into a forward position, and it paid off. Ceesay released substitute Nicholas Fernandes down the left who delivered a low cross into the box and Monday tapped it in to make it all square.

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However, Bagan caught Churchill off guard and cut short their jubilation within two minutes.

Following a melee inside the Churchill penalty box, Mohun Bagan substitute Sheikh Faiaz delivered a sumptuous ball to the far post and Lebanese striker Moghrabi headed past Kithan at the near post to make it 2-1 to keep their hunt alive.

In their final fixtures, both teams have away games with Mohun Bagan facing Gokulam FC on March 6 and Churchill Brothers playing table-toppers Minerva two days later.



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