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Mahindra United win NFL
May 09, 2006 11:20 IST
Mahindra United on Monday clinched their maiden National Football League title after East Bengal lost to Sporting Club de Goa 1-3 in a league match at the Nehru stadium in Margao.
East Bengal's defeat meant Mahindras, with 32 points and three matches remaining, have an unbeatable four-point lead over their nearest rival who have one match to go.
Even a win in their last match against JCT, and defeat in the remaining three matches for Mahindras, will see the Bengal outfit still fall short by one point. Sporting took their tally to 22 points from 14 matches.
All the goals came in the first half for the winners through Edeh Chidi (12th), Hardeep Singh Saini (34th) and Dudu Omagbemi (36th). Baichung Bhutia reduced the margin for East Bengal in the 28th minute.
Thus Mahindra United is the third team after Mohun Bagan and Dempo to achieve the distinction of winning the double -- Federation Cup and the NFL in same season.
Hardeep Singh Saini was named the man of the match.
Sporting sounded the first warning when Dudu's angular drive hit the post after keeper Rajat Ghosh managed to get his hand to it.
Chidi put his team up in the 12th minute when Nicalau Borges from the right laid a pass to Chidi, who dogged past two defenders and cracked the ball into the net.
East Bengal, who knew that they could not afford to lose the match to keep their slim hope of a fight for the title, regrouped and found the equaliser in the 28th minute through Bhutia who uncorked an angular drive that beat goalkeeper Luis Barretto to find the far post off Jayant Sen's pass.
But Sporting exploited the weak East Bengal defence as they found space to score two goals in a span of two minutes to seal the match in their favour.
Saini's 30-yeard shot off Chidi pass found the net in the 34th minute before Dudu headed in a corner kick by Nicholas Rodrigues from the right.