KOLKATA: Mohun Bagan continue their swashbuckling run in the Hero I-League with a 2-0 victory over Mumbai FC, thanks to a strike apiece by Katsumi Yusa and Sony Norde in either half of the match.
Katsumi Yusa opened the scoring for the home side in the 34th minute with Sony Norde doubling the lead in the 62nd minute after a delightful free-kick to win the game for his side.
Katsumi Yusa sat out to make way for the U-22 player Manish Bhargav who started on the right alongside Sony Norde on the left. Lenny Rodrigues and Pronay Halder were in midfield while Prabir Das was given his first start in the Hero I-league.
Khalid Jamil, contrary to what he said before the match, began with all four of his foreign recruits. Arata Izumi and Eric Brown were stationed in midfield with Pratik Chaudhary playing the defensive screen. Ryoki Kozawa was the lone striker upfront.
The match began on an even footing with Mumbai looking to make up the numbers in midfield and ganging up on Sony Norde.
It was the youngster Bhargav who went past his counterpart Thiyam down the right before sending his shot onto the side netting before the ten-minute mark.
The away side had their first shot at goal through Kozawa in the 24th minute after Bhargav gave away the ball in his own half. His fierce piledriver required Debjit at full stretch to parry it away.
The introduction of Katsumi Yusa on the half-hour mark spiced up the situation and the Japanese made his presence felt merely five minutes after.
Following a give and go between Cornell and Jeje, Katsumi was found unmarked down the right well in the box. With plenty of time to boot, Mohun Bagan’s regular skipper lobbed it onto the far corner to give his side the lead.
Cornell Glen let a chance go abegging after Katsumi’s cross found him at the far post, only to see him smash it wide.
Sony Norde, who had been Bagan’s most potent attacking threat like always, however, had a shocking miss in the added time. After beating the offside trap and dribbling past an onrushing Pawan Kumar, he skied it with an open net was staring at him.
After the lemon break, Mumbai tried to stamp their presence on the match as Kozawa tried to make a nuisance of himself in the box but Luciano was at hand to deal with him.
With Cornell Glen picking up an injury, Chakraborty threw midfielder Souvik Chakraborty into the fray with Bagan finally dominating midfield.
The impact was again immediate as Sony was fouled just outside the box by Ashutosh Mehta as he looked to pull the trigger. He made no mistake from the set-piece as his right-footed drive towards the top corner beat Pawan Kumar making it 2-0 in the 62nd minute.
With Mumbai pushing plenty of men forward, they left plenty of space behind for Bagan to exploit especially with Sony’s blistering pace.
In the 72nd minute, after Souvik released him down the left, he checked and came centrally before playing on Katsumi down the right. The Japanese with a clear view of goal beat Pawan with an angled shot but the far post came in the way to deny him a brace.
Three minutes later it was Sony as he brought the ball forward from defense, before exchanging a one-two with Jeje Lalpekhlua. With Sony down the left, he opted to slide it to Jeje at the far post, but the Indian international was a bit late allowing Jayesh Rane to get a foot in to avert a sure shot tap in.
With Mumbai losing the desire to play Mohun Bagan stroked the ball around with ease. Eric Brown could have picked up a consolation strike in extra time but Luciano flung himself at the shot to preserve the clean sheet.
The win sees Bagan cement their lead at the top, extending it to three points between them and Bengaluru, having played the equal number of games.
Meanwhile, Mumbai FC need to win soon as this was their eighth game in the Hero I-League on a trot sans a victory.
– I-League Media