Mohun Bagan win National Football League
Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan won the Tata National Football League for the third time after beating Zee Churchill 1-0 in the concluding, 22nd round, match at the Nehru stadium, in Margao, Goa, on Monday.
Abdul Saliu scored the all-important goal for the 1997-98 and '99-2000 champions in the 72nd minute.
Bagan, who had beaten Churchill 2-1 in the 'home' meeting in January, finished with 44 points, two more than Churchill.
Churchill, second in the league in 1996-97 and '99-2000, finished with 42 points and took second place after JCT Mills, Phagwara, shocked Vasco 2-1 at Ludhiana.
The result saw Vasco finish third with 40 points. JCT avoided relegation by swelling their points tally to 21 and placing ahead of F C Kochin and Punjab Police.
The Mohun Bagan - Churchill match was keenly contested. After a barren first half, the Kolkata giants scored the match-winner, courtsey a costly lapse by Churchill defence. Following a flag-kick from the right, Bagan medio Basudeb
Mondal floated the ball into the box and as the Goan defenders
hesitated to clear the ball, an unmarked Saliu found the
target with a superb header to give Bagan the title and a cash
prize of Rs four million.
Churchill were reduced to ten men in the 65th
minute when defender Mahesh Gawli, who did a good job in
policing Brazilian striker Jose Barreto, received his second
yellow card from Malaysian referee Mohammed Supian for
handling the ball.
The Goa side were unlucky in the dying minutes when
Osamanu Husseni's header was saved on the goal line by Bagan
defender Debjit Ghosh.
There was some consolation for the Goa champions as their main striker Yusif Yakubu emerged the top scorer of the tournament with 17 goals. Bagan's Brazilian ace Jose Ramirez Barreto was second with 16 goals.
In other concluding round matches, defending champions East Bengal were held to a 1-1 draw by Salgaocar in Kolkata; Hindustan Aeronautics beat Mahindra United 2-0 in Mumbai; Tollygunge routed F C Kochin 5-0; JCT shocked Vasco 2-1 and Punjab Police beat ITI, Bangalore, 2-1.
Salgaocar, champions in 1998-99, finished with 39 points while East Bengal culled 36.
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