Mohun Bagan, Mumbai City play out 1-1 draw

Harpal Singh Bedi

Kolkat: Fancied Mohun Bagan (MB) and Mumbai City (MC) played out a thrilling 1-1 draw in a Group B 131st Durand Cup clash, at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK)  here  on Wednesday. 

Liston Colaco drew first blood for the green and maroons in the first-half, only to see that effort cancelled out by Argentine striker Jorge Pereyra Diaz, in the second. MC now have four points from two games while MB have picked up their first, after going down to Rajasthan United in their first game.

MB coach Juan Ferrando effected four changes in his starting eleven, including keeper Vishal Kaith in goal in place Arsh Shaikh, who had started the first match. Des Buckingham, the MCFC gaffer made just the one, bringing in Ahmed Jahouh to start in place of Pereyra Diaz.

The match opened at a ferocious pace with MB doing most of the attacking in the first 20 minutes of the first-half.

Liston, as early as the second minute, made a dazzling run from the right and unleashed a right-footer from inside the box to beat keeper Phurba Lachenpa in the MCFC goal, but the right upright came to the rescue. Another solo run by the Goan in the 12th minute was thwarted by an alert Rahul Bheke in the MC defence.

Bipin Singh got the first chance for MCFC in the 16th, but Pritam Kotal made a similar intervention and from the resulting corner Bheke’s header went over the target.

Then Finish world cupper, Joni Kauko got a loose ball inside the box in the 18th minute, but missed his connection totally.

In the 35th minute, Bipin Singh found Alberto Ripoll inside the box and the Spaniard side-stepped Ashish Rai for a shot on target but the effort was aimed straight at Vishal Kaith in the MB goal.

The goal came in the 40th minute. It started with Florentin Pogba in the middle of the park who controlled the ball with some skill to shrug off two MC challengers and passed square to his left to Deepak Tangri. He found Frenchman Boumous over on the right flank who spotted the run of Ashish Rai inside the box and played him on. Ashish’s strike on target was saved by Lachenpa, but Liston was at hand and bulged the rebound into the roof of the Mumbai net.

MC could have equalized four minutes later when Greg Stewart found Bipin Singh in the clear with a floater, but the Manipuri’s header was straight at Vishal again.

Des Buckingham made one change at half-time bringing in Lallianzuala Chhangte, the Man of the Match in the last game, in place of Vikram Pratap Singh, who looked off colour on the day. 10-minutes into the half he brought on Sanjeev Stalin, who has a bit more attacking flair in defence, to replace Amay Ranawade.

Ferrando made his first move in the 62nd, effecting a double change. Joni Kauko and Ashique Kurniyan, who was quite lively in the left flank, were taken off and Manvir Singh and young Kiyan Nassiri were brought on to add fresh legs in attack.

In the 65th, Liston got a similar rebound off Lachenpa as in the first goal, this time even closer, after a beautiful team move that involved Kiyan from the right who squared to Liston. His classy dummy found Ashish Rai in place who played out to Manvir in space on the left. His shot on target came back off Lachenpa but Australian defender Rostyn Griffiths was first to react and cleared before Liston could pounce.

Ferrando’s third substitute, Pereyra Diaz, brought on in the 68th minute in place of Moroccan Ahmed Jahouh, was the one that brought him dividends. In-fact both the subs combined as Stalin, played out wide on the right, delivered a first-time floater in the box and found the Argentine unmarked. He headed down to wrong-foot the keeper and MCFC were level.

Ferrando then tried everything to get a winner, bringing in Lenny Rodriguez and Pronoy Halder for Deepak Tangri and Hugo Boumous. In the 86th minute, he brought on Hnamte for the hard-working Ashish Rai as a final throw of the dice. But besides a Manvir header in the 90th minute, off a Pritam Kotal cross, there was not much purchase.

HSB

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