Fransa Pax survived a late charge to down Mohun Bagan 2-1 and open their second leg campaign on a bright note, in the ONGC ninth National Football League, at the Nehru stadium, in Margao, Goa, on Tuesday.
Fransa, who beat the Kolkata giants in the first phase by an identical margin in Kolkata, scored through Player of the Match Peter Rodrigues (15th minute), and Benjamin Ansah (66th).
After missing a couple of close chances, former champions Bagan reduced the margin in the 81st minute, when Brazilian Roberto Mendes Silva headed home a cross from Renedy Singh, from the left.
Bagan, who had a bumpy ride in the first phase, were looking to start the second phase on a winning note but failed to impress as they lacked the killer instinct up front.
With their midfield failing to combine well, it was only in the latter part of the match they showed urgency in their attack.
The victory took Fransa Pax on par with Mumbai's Mahindra United, with 18 points from 12 matches, but they are placed fourth on account of inferior goal difference.
Bagan, who suffered their fifth defeat from 12 matches, remain in seventh place.
Fransa started in right earnest and had the first chance to score. But Sebastiao Endro, who was free inside the penalty box, failed to direct the ball on target off Joseph Ogor's measured cross.
Three minutes later, Endro was again thwarted by defender Ajibade Babalade.
Undeterred by the two misses, the Goan outfit surged ahead in the 15th minute. A free-kick by Jules Alberto Dias deflected off a rival defender into the path of an unmarked Peter Rodrigues inside the box. He controlled the ball and essayed home a stiff grounder to the left of Bagan 'keeper Dora.
Bagan retaliated and nearly equalised, but Ashim Biswas's well-directed shot from the top of the box kissed the bar and went out.
Fransa continued to hold the edge over their rivals in the midfield after the change of ends and increased the lead in the 21st minute of the second period of play.
Peter Rodrigues sent a diagonal pass from the right into the box for Benjamin Ansah to control the ball and unleash a fierce left-footer which was deflected by a Bagan defender into the goal.
Bagan regrouped and made frantic attempts to score. But substitute Abhay Kumar missed an easy chance as he headed over the crossbar a cross directed to him by Renedy from the left.
After this close miss Bagan reduced the margin when Robert Mendes headed home a well directed cross from the left by Renedy Singh. Thereafter, Bagan went on an all out attack to find the equaliser but Fransa defended well to keep their fort intact.