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Mahindra rout Bagan 4-1
Mario Rodrigues in Mumbai | January 14, 2007 19:08 IST
Brilliant Yusuf Yakubu missed a hat-trick by fluffing an injury time penalty as Mahindra United routed Mohun Bagan 4-1 for their biggest victory in National Football League over the formidable three-time winners at the Cooperage in Mumbai on Sunday.
The win took the defending champions to the top of the table with seven points while Mohun Bagan languish at rock bottom with a solitary point. Mahindras had earlier beaten the Federation Cup champions in the final of the IFA Shield on their home turf.
The match turned into a nightmare for the Kolkata side's physical trainer turned coach, Robson Mattos, whose job could be on the line after failing to win his third consecutive (away) game. The Brazilian rang in the right changes, bringing on youngsters, medio Lalkamal Bhowmick and striker Lalamwpuia, plus veteran hitman Dipendu Biswas in the second half. But although these moves gave the visitors added pep, it was not enough to change the script.
Dangerous Baichung Bhutia opened the account for Bagan in the 17th minute by smartly heading in a cross from Surajit Bose from the right after skipper Jose Barreto had skillfully orchestrated the move from the midfield. However, an unmarked Andrew Mensah equalized with a header in the 25th minute following some skillful work by Yakubu, who set up his former club mate back home with a perfect chip. This was Mensah's third goal in three successive matches.
Mahindras then stormed ahead with two quick strikes from Yakubu (29th and 35th minutes), who capitalized on some blunders by the Mohun Bagan central defence, which sorely missed the robust presence of Edudardo Coelho (injury) and Sanjiv Maria (suspension).
First Deepak Mondal hastily cleared onto the path of Yakubu and the ball rebounded into the goal. Then custodian Sangram Mukherjee barely managed to keep out a stinging free kick from Surkumar Singh but the Ghanaian was on hand to tap the rebound into an empty net.
Barreto could have reduced the margin in the 35th minute but he missed an absolute sitter after Mahindra custodian Sandip Nandy dropped the ball in the goalmouth following Mehtab Hussain's cross from the left. The Mohun Bagan talisman failed again late in the second half from a more difficult opportunity.
The lively second half saw a few opportunities being created at both ends, with Bhutia coming close on a couple of occasions. But it was the 'red devils' who had the last laugh even though Yakubu had his spot kick saved by Mukherjee after substitute Steven Pereira was brought down in the box by Bijoy Basofore in added on time.
The former Churchill Brothers' striker had supplied the cross on that occasion and he sent in another killer one in the 93rd minute for substitute Abhishek Yadav to complete the rout.
Mahindras take on Sporting Clube de Goa at home next on January 22 while Mohun Bagan meet Air-India two days earlier in their first home match of this edition.
Mahindra defender K Ajayan will miss the match as he picked up another yellow today. His colleague Sushant Mathews was also booked by referee Dinesh Nair as were rivals Barreto and Hussain.