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Mahindra United salvage thrilling draw
Mario Rodrigues in Mumbai | March 16, 2007 20:06 IST
Last Updated: March 16, 2007 20:15 IST
Mahindra United came back from the dead to salvage a thrilling 2-2 draw against a tiring East Bengal in an exciting eighth round National Football League clash at the Cooperage in Mumbai on Friday.
The defending champions were trailing 0-2 after Brazilian striker Edmilson Marques notched a brace, with goals in the 31st and 58th minutes, both due to glaring defensive blunders by the home side.
Mahindra reduced the margin through substitute Abhishek Yadav in the 70th minute, but it was left to prodigal striker Pomeyie Andrews Mensah to redeem himself and his team with an 89th minute equaliser.
Today's draw enabled Dempo Sports Club emerge clear leaders with 17 points.
Mahindra United remain in second spot due to better goal difference over the third-placed Kolkata giants even though both have 15 points.
It was a game that Mahindra should have wrapped up comfortably in the first half itself but a fine save by goalkeeper Abhra Mandal in the seventh minute off Mbaka Dady and some missed chances saw East Bengal keep their citadel safe.
At the other end, a casual piece of defending resulted in Edmilson being tripped by Mahesh Gawli at the edge of the box. The Brazilian coolly slotted home the spot-kick. Edmilson also showed fine opportunism in the second half to chase down a goal kick and boot in his second goal even as Gawli and Mahindra goalkeeper Sandip Nandy deliberated as to whose responsibility it was to clear the ball.
The second reserve inspired Mahindra to raise the level of their game and they laid siege to the East Bengal castle with repeated raids from both flanks. The long ball barrage paid dividends as Yadav bulged the net with a powerful header off an N P Pradeep free-kick. The equaliser deservingly came in the dying stages as Mensah, who spurned quite a few chances earlier, finished neatly from a fine combined move on the right flank to save the day for the hosts.
Carlos Pereira's squad, which relied mainly on counters as the match progressed, were pinned on the defensive although hey were handicapped after a tiring Alvito D'Cunha was pulled out and an injured Edmilson limped off in the second half.