Salgaocar Sports Club played their hearts out to register a 2-0 win over Mohun Bagan SC in the I-League match played at Duler grounds, here on Sunday.
Goals from either side of the half — first by Nigerian Gabriel Obatola (33rd minute) and then by Brazilian Josimar Da Silva (62nd minute) gave the hosts precious three points to see their team climb to thirteen points. On the other hand, Mohan Bagan who received a reprieve from AIFF for a 2-year ban, are on the bottom of the league table with no point in their kitty.
The Green Brigade who were being reinforced with three foreign imports — Nigerian Gabriel Obatola and Brazilian Josimar Da Silva at the upfront and Singapore John Wilkinson controlling the midfield—came with threatening moves right at the start of the whistle.
Gabriel sparkled in the game with his deft footwork and lovely run-in, but it was Mohan Bagan keeper who prevented him scoring on a couple of occasions. The best chance for Gabriel came in the form of a penalty when Bagan’s Nigerian central defender Celestin Echezona was pulled by Karnataka referee Andrew Shekhar for handling the ball off a cross from Gilbert Oliveira, however Gabriel’s placement went out.
Mohan Bagan had yet another close save when Gabriel’s goal-bound shot hit the defender and the ball came to John Wilkinson, whose shot missed the target narrowly.
It was only in the 30th minute of play that Bagan had the best try at the rival goal when Australian Tolgay Ozbey getting hold to a pass from Syed Rahim Nabi weaved his way inside the danger zone and drilled a power-packed left footer which was blocked by keeper Karanjit Singh.
The long-awaited goal and a big relief for Gabriel came in the 33rd minute of play when team-mate Josimar Da Silva waltzed past rival defense and set him up in front of the goal, where he gave the finishing touches, 1-0.
Another swift run almost from his own half by Gabriel on the left flank saw him cut past SK Jewel Raja and defender Celestin Echezona and set up Josimar inside the 18-yard box, but before he could do any damage defender Aiborlang Khongjee came with a timely clearance.
The change of ends saw the visitor’s pursuit for an equaliser, but it was some outstanding keeping by Karanjit Singh, who came to his team’s rescue twice, as he once blocked a hot-blooded shot from unmarked Snehasish Chakraborty and then pushed the ball for a corner off a stinging shot by John Wilkinson.
While the visitor’s side failed to score at the other end, a splendid move from the right flank by Francis Fernandes, who outsmarting left back Snehasish and flashed the ball to well positioned Gabriel, whose strike rebounded off the keeper to find Josimar Da Silva tap the ball home, 2-0.
Salgaocar would have added another two goals had it not for some brilliant keeping by Mohan Bagan custodian Arindam Bhattacharya, who managed to keep the score sheet low, as he first tipped the ball over the post from a long ranger by Salgaocar skipper Rocus Lamare and minutes later got his hand to the ball off a 25-yard curling free kick from John Wilkinson.
Referee Andrew Shekhar controlled the proceeding well by flashing four caution cards to Salgaocar’s Fulgencio Cardozo, Rahul Kumar, Rocus Lamare, Francis Fernandes and Mohan Bagan’s Tolgay Ozbey and Syed Rahim Nabi.
Salgoacar keeper Karanjit Singh received the most valuable player award for his excellent keeping.
In the post match briefing, Salgaocar coach David Booth chose to give the credit of the win to his players as according to him his players had a plan for the defence which they executed well.
On the other hand Mohan Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa, who was 10 minutes late for the press briefing, expressed his disappointed with the result and said that his strikers lacked sharpness. “We want to win with pride. But when we lose we also lose with dignity and pride. Salgaocar played well and they deserved to win,” he said.
“Though we didn’t have competitive matches for the last five weeks, but I am happy and proud of the players who, after going through all the mental agony, kept their cool and gave a descent performance,” he added.
“We have 16 matches ahead and will bounce back, by winning them to avoid relegation” Bencherifa said while exuding confidence of his players.
Sporting Clube, Pune FC in goalless draw
Pune FC were held to a goalless draw by a 10-man Sporting Clube de Goa in an I-League Round 17 encounter at the Shivchhatrapati Sports Complex at Balewadi in Pune on Sunday.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men in first-half injury time after midfielder Rovan Pereira was sent off for a second bookable offense. Sporting played their heart out to salvage a point from the game.
With a point from the game, Pune FC stay fourth in the table with 30 points from 15 games while Sporting Clube de Goa remain at 12th with 14 points. [NT]