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Mahindra rally to down Dempo
Mario Rodrigues | January 08, 2007 18:36 IST
Last Updated: January 08, 2007 19:01 IST
Mahindra United's latest signing, Andrews Mensah, proved his utility to the side on debut with a goal and an assist that powered the red and black brigade to a thoroughly deserving but hard-fought 2-1 victory over Dempo Sports Club in a first round ONGG National Football League match in Mumbai on Monday.
The sturdy Ghanian striker, who won the man-of-the-match award, equalised in the 10th minute to neutralise a fourth minute strike by Jerry Zirsinga, and then laid a killer square pass in the 82nd minute for countryman Yusuf Yakubu to stab in the match-winner.
Except for the snap goal, a first-time volley from Zirsinga following a cross by Sameer Naik, and some pretty midfield play initially, Dempo did nothing to threaten the Mahindra citadel thereafter.
The defending champions grew in stature as the match progressed and were deserving of a higher tally from the number of attacks they launched and the half chances they created.
Inspired Yakubu was a livewire today and gave the Goan defence a harrowing time with his darting runs and dribbles while right wing-back Stephen Pereira floated in some dangerous crosses time and again. Stopper backs Mahesh Gawli and the versatile newcomer N P Pradeep also had a good game, keeping the dangerous duo of Beto and Ranti Martins on a tight leash.
Mahindra's equaliser came following a throw-in from the left by N S Manju, which was flicked on by Pradeep straight to the feet of Mensah, who blasted the ball into the net, with Dempo keeper Satish Kumar strangely rooted to his line.
Mahindra then upped the tempo, launching raid after raid, but they were only able to break down the Dempo defence again late into the match.
A quick counter from the middle set Mensah free on the left and he accurately rolled the ball across the goalmouth for Yakubu to tap into an open goal with the entire Dempo defence out of position.
Mahindra United take on Churchill Brothers at home in the second round on January 11 while the losers go back to Goa for a clash with Mohammedan Sporting on January 12.
Churchill Brothers incidentally lead the table after the first round with a better goal difference following their 2-0 win over Sporting Clube de Goa on Sunday.