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ITI rub salt to Bagan's wounds
April 23, 2003 21:05 IST
Cellar outfit Indian Telephone Industries, Bangalore, rubbed salt on Mohun Bagan's wounds, stealing a 3-3 draw in a penultimate round match in the seventh National Football League in Kolkata on Wednesday.
The result pushed the defending champions further down the league table.
Bagan now have 33 points from 21 matches, while ITI, with eight points from as many matches, is staring at a relegation.
While Najeeb Adu struck twice and Tejinder Singh once for ITI, Bagan's Baichung Bhutia signalled his return to form with a brace and Sunil Chettri completed the tally for the green-maroon brigade.
Bhutia booted home just two minutes after play began, but ITI made amends, scoring three quick goals in a 12-minute blitz midway through beginning in the middle of the second-half.
Najeeb Adu's salvo found the target in the 63rd minute to level the game and Tejinder Singh gave ITI a vital lead seven minutes later. To add insult to injury, Adu sent home a tremendous volley to give ITI an arrogant 3-1 lead in the 75th minute.
But the local side, which took the field for the first time in more than three years without seasoned coach Subrata Bhattacharjee, found the first reducer through Sunil Chettri just a minute later.
Chettri met a measured cross from Bhutia to drive home and make it 2-3.
Four minutes later, it took the best out of Bhutia to give his side the equaliser 3-3 much to the relief of the interim coaches Bidesh Bose and Shyamal Banerjee.
Bhutia, after following a right flank cross from Jose Ramirez Barreto, split the defence with a deft body feint and then slotted home cooly. This was Barreto's last match for the club this season as is due to fly back to Brazil this evening.
Bagan could have stolen victory in the dying moments had not ITI's Akshay Das made a goal-line save.
The Bagan side, earlier, took the field with the supporters jeering their players for the club's unilateral decision to sack their most successful coach of recent times.
Indeed, Mohun Bagan looked jaded and without any gameplan in Subrata's absence and it was only because of the individual brilliance of a few players that the green-maroons could slavage a draw.