A first half strike by the Nigerian striker was enough for the Green and Maroon brigade to start their campaign on a positive note...Mohun Bagan edged past Mumbai FC 1-0 in a group C encounter at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi on Wednesday evening. Christopher Chizoba scored the all important goal in the 27th minute to seal three points for the Kolkata outfit.
Odafa Okolie was excluded of the starting eleven as he didn't recover from a hamstring injury. Khalid Jamil handed new signing Rahul Bheke a start while Henry Ezeh and Sehnaj Singh were named on the bench.
Ahmad Hatifie forced an early save from Shilton Paul as the Mohun Bagan goalkeeper dived to his left to deny the Afghanistan medio in the fifth minute.
Mohun Bagan’s first chance came in the 16th minute when Katsumi Yusa made a storming run down the left flank and let go a shot on goal which was deflected by goalkeeper Nidhin Lal to his post before the Mumbai FC defenders averted the danger.
Just before the half hour mark, Christopher Chizoba found the back of the net with a powerful volley after he beat the off-side trap to latch on to a cross from Katsumi Yusa.
Chizoba had another chance to double his tally a few minutes before the half-time but was caught flat-footed after getting the ball in front of goal with only the goalkeeper to beat.
After the break, Mumbai FC had the first opportunity to score the equalizer in the 64th minute. Anwar Ali’s free-kick saw Yakubu make a good run attempt to slot the ball home after he managed to beat the goalkeeper. However unfortunately for him the ball went out of play before he could do apply the finishing touch.
Chizoba should have done better after he was released by Yusa and had only Nidhin Lal to beat. Credit must be given to the Mumbai FC goalkeeper who came off his line to distract the Nigerian who eventually fluffed his shot.
Substitute Ram Mallik was guilty of missing an open chance as he shot wide from inside the box in the 73rd minute.
In what could have been a certain equaliser in the 89th minute, Hatifie lobbed the ball for Ezeh, who sneaked past Anyichie Echezona, but the Mumbai FC substitute saw his shot go inches wide of the left post.
Thereafter Chizoba set up Ram Malik but the latter's shot was blocked by Nidhin Lal in injury time. The scoreline remained the same as Bagan held on to the slender lead from first half.
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