Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan turned in an authoritative display and struck once in each half to get past Vasco Sports Club, Goa, 2-0 in an eighth National Football League match in Kolkata on Thursday.
Skipper Renedy Singh put the home side ahead in the 32nd minute before Jose Barreto, the spearhead of the Bagan attack, scored a goal early in the second session to seal the fate of the Goans, at the Salt Lake stadium.
After soaking the initial Vasco thrusts, Bagan launched into top gear from the middle of the opening half, and went ahead when an Ashim Biswas-Renedy combined move saw the latter unleash a power-packed shot which ricocheted off the near post. Renedy, who had followed up well, placed the ball to the right of Vasco's Brazilian custodian Rogerio Ramos, triggering all-round applause from around 40,000 spectators in the galleries.
Stung by the reverse, the visitors carried out a number of raids into the Bagan half, and created at least four chances, but all went abegging.
Amaechi Tochukwu alone missed a couple of gilt-edged opportunities as Bagan led 1-0 at the halfway mark.
The former champions increased the lead in the 54th minute when Barreto met an inviting centre from Renedy with a spectacular diving header, which went into the net inches off the ground.
As time wore on, Bagan's stranglehold on the match increased, and Vasco's defence caved in, unable to withstand constant pressure. However, lack of finishing proved Bagan's undoing.
After five matches, Bagan have ten points, while Vasco remain on six.
Vasco, however, held out much promise in the early minutes, repeatedly raiding the Bagan citadel with speed and gusto. In the sixth minute, Bagan goalkeeper Prashanta Dora saved his side's collapse by diving at the feet of an advancing Amaechi to bring off a smart collection.
A little later, Bagan's new Brazilian recurit Leonardo de Almeida, who played as central defender, miskicked in his bid to clear the ball, which went to Amaechi. But the last-named's header was off-target.
But the complexion of the match changed as the game progressed. Bagan's midfielders gradually established sway and fed their strikers, Barreto and Biswas, with several delectable passes.
Down by a goal, Vasco suffered a jolt in the dying minutes of the first half when Edson Castro was marched out after receiving his second booking of the match for bringing down Mehtab Hossein unnecessarily in an off-the-ball situation. The Goans had to play the entire second session with ten players.
The exit of Castro seemed to demoralise Vasco, who were on the defensive for the entire duration of the second half.
Barreto let loose a thundering 40-yarder soon after scoring the goal, but the ball narrowly missed the target.
The Brazilian twice set up Hardip Saini on a platter towards the close of the match, but on both occasions the latter was found wanting.