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I-League: Minerva Punjab record maiden win; Duffy slams brace in Mohun Bagan- Aizawl FC thriller

Ludhiana/ Kolkata: Debutants Minerva Punjab Football Club beat Mumbai FC 2-1 to register their maiden win, while Mohun Bagan survived Aizawl FC scare in I-League here on Saturday.

In the first match, Baoringdao Bodo (57th minute) and Anirudh Thapa (66th) scored for the Punjab side while Albeit Karan Sawhney (77th) pulled one back for Mumbai.

The win came after Minerva Punjab held Churchill Brothers to a draw in a creditable performance on Wednesday.

Mumbai, on the other hand, slumped to their fifth loss on the trot. They had won their opening two matches before losing the next five.

Mumbai, banking on coach Santosh Kashyap’s innovative 3-1-4-2 formation, were led by Densill Theobald. Minerva were was led by Kareem and opted a 4-3-3 formation.

The first half saw end-to-end action with Minerva coming twice to scoring while Mumbai were also on the brink of taking the lead when veteran Steven Dias hit a volley just inches over the target.

After a barren first half, the second session kicked off with more urgency and both teams were eager to break the deadlock.

Tackles came flying end to end as Arashpreet was booked for a challenge on Steven Dias.

Minerva managed to score their first goal after a deflected cross from Anirudh Thapa and Bodo was there at the right place at the right time.

The next one came in quick succession for the home team after Thapa scored a free-kick goal which landed at the net beating Kattimani at the far post.

Mumbai went for more attack and it was all down to Steven Dias’ in swinging corner which was headed onto goal by Sawhney by beating goalkeeper Arnab Das.

With today’s win, Minerva Punjab FC leapfrogged Chennai City FC to the ninth spot at the table with five points whereas Mumbai are at sixth spot with six points.

Later in the day, Bagan pipped a spirited Aizawl 3-2, riding on Darryl Duffy’s 84th minute spotkick in a thrilling clash at the Rabindra Sarovar Stadium.

The match went down the wire with Aizawl FC showing a lot of resolve as both teams were locked 1-1 at halftime after Duffy’s second minute strike was cancelled by Jayesh Rane (41st) of the visiting side.

With 20 minutes left, the I-League debutants from Mizoram once again made their intention clear when Jeje Lalpekhula’s 63rd minute strike was nullified by Ashutosh Mehta’s header.

Amid intense drama, Mehta however failed to become their hero as he brought down Katsumi Yusa inside the box and Alfred Jayran saw yellow for his misconduct of kicking the ball out in what turned out to be a decisive 83rd minute for Mohun Bagan.

Duffy fired the ball into the bottom right corner to seal a hard-fought win that took them to the same points as arch-rivals East Bengal (16) ahead of the much-anticipated derby on February 12.

With five minutes of added time, Aizawl FC tried with all their might to bring it on level for a third time in the match but Mohun Bagan defence held up to remain unbeaten after six matches.

Mohun Bagan are now have the same number of wins (five each) and draws (one each) as their bitter foes but behind them on goal difference.

The brace saw Duffy go past CK Vineeth to become the leading goal scorer with six goals from five matches.

Duffy headed Mohun Bagan ahead in the second minute in what was the fastest goal of the ongoing League so far.

Sehnaj Singh’s through was intercepted but Katsumi Yusa took the possession and surged into the left wing as his cross was superbly headed home by the Scot with Aizawl defender Kingsley Eze failing to clear the ball.

Mohun Bagan could have easily doubled their lead through Prabir Das who slammed the ball into orbit but only to miss an open net.

Both teams fought hard and Aizawl kept pushing the game towards their wing every now and then to keep Mohun Bagan defenders on toes.

The NorthEast debutants almost found the opening half an hour into the proceedings but Jayran hit one over the bar with Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Debjit Majumder out of place.

Finally Aizawl found the equaliser with five minutes to go for the break in what was a fantastic team effort. Lalmuankima began the move with an elegant through ball as Ivorian recruit Kamo Stephane Bayi cut inside the box with a grounded square pass before Rane found the goal with a first touch.

In the 63rd minute Jeje Lalpekhula scored against his home state with a calm left-footed finish from a clinical square pass from Prabir Das to put Mohun Bagan ahead again.

The credit should also be given to Pronay Halder who first saw Das running into the right as he set it up with a cool-headed pass.

Mehta equalised in the 70th minute off Rane corner kick with a simple jump and heading the ball home without much fuss.  

Source: Zee News