Mohun Bagan continued their unbeaten start to the season with a 3-1 win at home against DSK Shivajians in the I-League at the Rabindra Sarovar Stadium on Saturday. Balwant Singh's first half brace and a late Katsumi Yusa penalty helped Bagan get their sixth win of the season, and move level on 21 points with league leaders East Bengal. Shivajians remain sixth with 10 points.
Milan Singh Ongnam put DSK ahead in the 33rd minute but Mohun Bagan nosed ahead with Balwant's double strikes (42nd and 44th) Mohun Bagan earned a penalty in the 87th minute after Gourmangi Singh brought down substitute Jeje Lalpekhlua and captain Katsumi Yusa stepped up to finish the game in the 89th minute.
There were some early pressure from Mohun Bagan but it was the Pune outfit that drew the first blood after Spanish midfielder Juan Quero, from the left wing, set up Milan with a low cross. The Manipuri surged forward before striking with his first-touch goal to put Bagan under pressure.
As the half came to a close, Kotal produced two measured passes from the right wing which resulted in two Balwant goals.
The first came when Kotal's cross was parried off wrongly into open space by the Pune goalkeeper Subrata Paul and Balwant easily headed it into the open net. In an action replay, Kotal once again set up Balwant who blasted the ball into the top of the right corner with a powerful low volley.
Both the Kolkata heavyweights now occupy the top two places with an identical six wins and three draws and they remain unbeaten after nine matches.
Bengaluru FC fall short again
Mumbai FC and Bengaluru FC (BFC) played out a goalless draw at the Cooperage stadium to increase the pressure on the defending champions.
Bengaluru FC are now winless in six games and this was their fourth straight draw in the league while Mumbai have now gone eight games without a win. On a night when BFC should have come away with three points, skipper Sunil Chhetri's shot was cleared off the line while CK Vineeth and Daniel Lalhlimpuia saw shots come close to breaking the deadlock, but it just wasn't to be.
In the first half, BFC's best chance came from a counter where Alwyn, after exchanging passes with Udanta Singh, shot straight at Lakshmikant Kattimani when he should have picked a corner. They had a chance to make amends within seconds when Udanta sent in a cross only for Daniel to head inches over the Mumbai crossbar.
BFC were forced into a substitution five minutes from the half when goalkeeper Amrinder Singh was replaced as Arindam Bhattacharya came on to mark his debut for the club since signing this summer.
Wanting to up the ante in attack after a first half that yielded no goal, CK Vineeth came on for Alwyn on the hour mark. Vineeth came close soon after coming on. He waltzed past three yellow shirts, sneaked into the Mumbai box but shot wide. Only minutes later, playing off Chhetri's smart dummy from a Watson pass, Vineeth shot straight at Kattimani where he should have looked to place the ball in.
But an under-pressure Daniel Lalhlimpuia missed the chance of the half in the 71st minute. Charging out to deal with a long ball played from the centre, Kattimani was left stranded on the edge of the box. The young striker, looking to make the most of an open net but with yellow shirts on his back, ended up shooting wide.
Bengaluru looked to have got the lead they had been chasing all evening when Chhetri, deftly turning to lose his man in the box, shot on target and past Kattimani only for defender Djelaludin Sharityar to turn up with a save on the goal line.
The draw leaves the Blues at fourth on the League table, with 13 points from nine games. Albert Roca's men next face East Bengal at the Kanteerava Stadium on 25th February.