Patrick Okonji's opportunistic first-half strike carried Mohammedan Sporting to a 1-0 win over three-time champions Mohun Bagan in a fast paced ONGC Cup 10th National Football League encounter in Kolkata on Saturday.
The goal came against the run of play in the 44th minute amid waves of Bagan attacks that failed to yield a goal due to the profligacy of the forwards.
Palash Karmakar's spectacular dipping free-kick from 25 yards saw Bagan custodian Subroto Paul attempting to fist it out, but off his hands the ball hit the bar and rebounded into play.
Nigerian Patrick, lurking nearby, swooped on the opportunity and put the ball home virtually unchallenged, as Bagan defenders seemed too stunned to react.
Bagan dominated the Salt Lake stadium match and came close to scoring at least on four occasions in each half, but lack of finishing prowess proved to be their undoing.
Buoyed by the lead, Sporting put up an inspired performance in the second session, with their captain Patrick causing havoc in the rival territory.
With time running out, a desperate Bagan stepped on the accelerator, but the Sporting defenders played their hearts out to thwart the rival advances. Sporting custodian Gopal Das was outstanding, bringing off a number of good saves.
Sporting, who went down 0-1 to East Bengal in the tournament opener, are now on three points from two matches. Mohun Bagan have got only one point by virtue of the goalless draw with Mahindra United in their first match.
Bagan got their first chance as early as in the third minute when Mehtab Hossain set up Abu Ibrahim, who made room by outwitting a rival defender, but shot out.
The green and maroon brigade established control over the midfield and created moves down the right, where Tomba Singh played a key role with his speed and ball control.
Mehtab followed a cross from Dharamjit Singh but failed to connect.
But the easiest chance came the club's way in the 21st minute. Ibrahim fed Kofi Agbesi, who had the custodian at his mercy, but shot straight at his body.
Sporting launched some counter-raids, but in the absence of support upfront Patrick found himself outnumbered by opponent rearguards.
Bagan missed another sitter a little after the half-hour mark. Mehtab essayed a lovely pass to Kofi, who took an ill-directed shot from an advantageous position inside the box.
Down by a goal, Bagan coach Jahar Das introduced striker Dipendu in place of Mehrajuddin Wadoo in the 64th minute, and the move almost paid dividends.
An Ibrahim cross saw Biswas go for a header on the run, but the ball went past the far post.
As Bagan upped the ante looking for the elusive equaliser, Gopal Das rose to the occasion time and again to ensure his team finished the day with three points.