Bagan slide to second position with 0-3 loss to East BengalFebruary 22nd, 2009 - 11:15 pm ICT by IANS
Kolkata, Feb 22 (IANS) East Bengal stopped Mohun Bagan’s golden run with an emphatic 3-0 win to push their arch-rivals to the second spot in the second I-League here Sunday.
Syed Rahim Nabi struck a brace, while Sunil Chhetri found the target once for the winners in the largely attended floodlit ‘Derby’ encounter at the Salt Lake Stadium as Bagan yielded the leaders’ slot to Sporting Clube de Goa.
After ten consecutive victories which had propelled them to the top slot in the glamorous league, Bagan seemed lacklustre and were unable to beat East Bengal’s young goalkeeper Abhra Mandal who saved at least four attempts.
After 16 games, Bagan now have 33 points, one less than Sporting Clube de Goa.
East Bengal are now sixth with 22 points.
Bagan had a fine start, and came close to scoring in the 11th and 18th minute, but Mandal was the saviour on both the occasions.
On the first occasion, Brazilian Jose Barreto’s header after a one-two with Bhaichung Bhutia was fisted by Mandal. Then a Barreto header off a Marcos Pereira free kick saw the goalkeeper bring up another save.
But East Bengal took the lead against the run of play in the 22nd minute from a set piece.
The Bagan defence was to blame, as Renedy Singh’s corner was flicked into the goal with a header by Nabi, who did his job virtually unchallenged.
East Bengal doubled the margin in the 40th minute when a Renedy free kick saw Nabi outjump the Bagan defenders and head home.
The scoreline became 3-0 soon after the breather. The 47th minute goal saw Nabi again play a stellar role, as he addressed a measured pass to Chhetri, who tapped home with a quick grounder.
Mohun Bagan had their supply line blocked as Marcos Pereira was well marked by the East Bengal players, who played their heart out in their efforts to revive their fortunes against their arch-enemy. Bagan had won the last nine matches against East Bengal at the venue.
East Bengal defenders put up a good show as they cut out Bagan’s forays with aplomb in the second half. Mehrajuddin Wadoo, M. Suresh and Sur Kumar Singh were outstanding.
Bagan, however, had a couple of chances in the session. But Mandal dived on to the ground to fist out for a corner a Lal Kamal Bhowmick effort in the 74th minute.
A few minutes later, Mandal again stole the spotlight as he confidently gripped a firm shot taken on the turn by Barreto.