Bagan go down to Mahindra United, finish second in I-League

April 16th, 2009 - 10:48 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 16 (IANS) Mohun Bagan missed an outside chance of winning the I-league title as they lost their final round to Mahindra United 1-2 and finished runners-up at the Ambedkar Stadium here Thursday.
Mahindra United’s Nigerian striker Edeh Chidi scored a brace to dash Mohun Bagan’s chance of a record fourth title. Substiute Branco Cardozo pulled one back for Mohun Bagan in the dying minutes of the game.

The Ambedkar Stadium had always been a happy hunting ground for Mohun Bagan, who have won 18 titles here including 16 Durand Cup. But on Thursday, a depleted Mohun Bagan side failed to put up an inspiring performance and went down tamely to the former champions, who finished fifth in the league.

A tired looking Mohun Bagan skipper Bhaichung Bhutia and Brazilian Jose Ramires Barreto could not make early inroads as Mahindra completely dominated the first half.

Chidi and Ivory Coast striker Douhou Pierre kept up the pressure upfront while midfilders Mohammed Rafi and Sushant Matthew gave them enough support.

Mahindra United were relentless with their attack and were awarded in the 42nd minute when Rafi found an unmarked Chidi in the box and the Nigerian shot it past Sangram Mukherjee to give the Mumbai team the lead. Chidi doubled the lead on the hour mark after he was again set-up by Rafi.

Braco pulled one in the injury time (93rd) from a goal mouth melee to restore some pride for Mohun Bagan.

Mahindra coach Derek Pereira was happy with the performance of the team.

“We played to our plan and defended well. I expected a good performance from the boys today. It has been an average season for us. We lost first three-four matches and that put pressure on us,” he said.

Mohun Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa rued missing four key players - midfielders Lalkamal Bhowmick, Rakesh Masih, Brazilian Marcos Pereira and defender N.S. Manju, who missed the game due to double bookings.

“Mahindra completely dominated the first half, but we fought well in the second half. We lost the league because we lost first five matches,” he said.

Bencherifa, a Moroccan, however said he was looking forward for the Super Cup, where the Kolkata team will face I-League champions Churchill Brothers. He also said that too much dependence on Bhutia and Barreto was not a good sign for his team.

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