Mohun Bagan down Churchill
for first win
Defending champions Mohun Bagan scored their first victory from two matches in the Oil PSU-seventh National Football League, beating last edition runners-up Churchill Brothers 3-2 in an exciting match at the Nehru stadium, in Margao, Goa, on Friday.
Brazilian striker Jose Barretto's goal in the 67th minute gave the Kolkatta side full points.
Two goals in a spell of nine minutes put Bagan high in the saddle, but they went through several anxious moments thereafter as the Goa side stepped up the pace.
India skipper Baichung Bhutia put Bagan ahead in the 20th minute before George Ekeh made it 2-0 nine minutes later.
A self goal by Bagan defender Isa Musah Eroje in the second minute of injury time in the first-half enabled Churchill pull one back.
In the second session, the Goa side held the edge and restored parity in the 58th minute through Rocky Barretto, but Jose Barretto's goal in the 67th minute clinched the issue for the defending champions.
The defeat was the first for Churchill from two matches. They had drawn with state mates Salcaocar 2-2 in their opening match.
Bagan had drawn with Vasco in their opening match.
In a fast-paced match, Bagan came near scoring in the very second minute, when Ekeh gave a pass to Buichung Bhutia, whose powerful volley was briliantly saved by Churchill goalkeeper Edward Ansah, diving to his right.
Churchill had two chances, but, in the seventh minute, Kasif Jammal made a mess of a good scoring opportunity following a pass from Yakubu Yusif, and then, in the ninth minute, Bagan goalkeeper Amit Singh Roy brought off a fine save off a try from Tikken Singh, again a following a pass from Yakubu.
Bagan drew first blood through Bhutia. George Ekeh dribbled past rival defender Ousumanu Hussain and unleashed a shot, which goalkeeper Ansah failed to grip properely. The ball slipped from his grasp and went towards Bhutia, who tapped into the net - 1-0.
Inspired by the goal, Bagan continued to attack and consolidated the lead through George Ekeh, who collected a pass from Renney Singh from the left flank, beat the rival defence and took a full-blooded shot, which hit the left goal post and deflected into the net - 2-0.
In injury time of the first-half, Tikken Singh crossed the ball from the left flank to Yakubu, who tapped into the goal to pull one back for Churchill. Bagan defender Eroje shot into his own goal as he attempted to clear.
After the change of ends, Churchill played with renewed vigour and restored parity through Rocky Barreto, who scored off a well-measured pass from Hussain - 2-2.
But Bagan widened their lead in the 66th minute through Jose Barretto. Ekeh dodged past Hussain and gave a pass to Barretto, who beat the onrushing Churchill keeper with his stiff shot to the far corner of the net - 3-2.
Tomorrow Salgaocar will clash against JCT at the same venue.
Complete Coverage: 7th National Football League 2002-03