Mohun Bagan clinch maiden I-League title

Kolkata giants drew against champions Bengaluru FC, end five-year trophy drought

Bengaluru: Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan clinched their maiden I-League title in 13 years after managing a 1-1 draw against defending champions Bengaluru FC at Kanteerva Stadium here on Sunday.

Bello Rasaq scored the equaliser to give Bagan (39) the much-needed point and pocket their fourth national title. The title also ended their five-year trophy drought.

Ironically it was Nigeria's Abdul Saliu, who scored the winning goal for Bagan in the 2001-02 National Football League, and this time too a Nigerian in Rasaq scored the much-needed goal.

Bengaluru's John Johnson drew first blood in the 41st minute as the hosts hung on to the lead into the first half.

Bagan fans were nearly lost for breath when Rasaq scored the equaliser in the 87th minute to bring them back to life. Rasaq headed the ball past the resplendent Bengaluru goalkepeer Ralte to start the celebrations back home in the City of Joy.

The first half completely belonged to Bengaluru, who made some splendid moves, thanks to their wonderful midfielders constantly feeding the strikers to have a go at the goal.

The second half belonged to Bagan who kept pushing into the defence of the hosts at regular intervals and the hosts went into the shell, defending the lead they had taken in the first half.

Despite the Bengaluru fans dominating the capacity crowd, there was nothing their players could do to stop a rampant Mohun Bagan in the second half.

Ashley Westwood, the Bengaluru coach, made a bold decision to drop international and captain Sunil Chhetri and fielded young and pacy Udanta Singh who bolstered the mid-field.

Bengaluru (37), who needed nothing less than a win to lift the crown, started strongly and created a lot of opportunities in the first half.

( Source : PTI )
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