In a match where Mumbai FC were totally dominant, Khalid Jamil's men will be disappointed that they could no come out with all three points against a lackluster Mariners..Mumbai FC and Mohun Bagan played out a 1-1 draw at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune in round seven I-League encounter.
An early free-kick from Odafa Okolie gave the away side the lead in the 21st minute while Abhishek Yadav came on to score the equaliser in the 62nd minute with his head. Both goals had the respective goalkeepers in and Luis Barreto and Shilton Paul being at fault.
Khalid Jamil chose to go with an unchanged side from the one that thrashed Shillong Lajong. Club top scorer ND Opara was again relegated to the bench as Yusif Yakubu started upfront with Gabriel Fernandes.
Karim Bencherifa was forced to make a change as Echezona Anyichie was out with an injury. Nirmal Chettri thus came in at centre-back while Syed Rahim Nabi pushed to right-back. Manish Bhargav got his first start in the I-League this season, as he started on the right flank in front of Nabi.
The match started off with Mohun Bagan being the more positive of the two sides and getting quicker out of the block than their counterparts in yellow.
However, it was 36-year old Yusuf Yakubu who had the first decent chance of the match as his volleyed snapshot from just outside the box almost caught Shilton Paul napping at his near post.
It was the team from Kolkata who took the lead from nowhere. Snehasish Chakraborty had been fouled to the left of the Mumbai FC box, winning a free-kick for his team. Odafa Okolie stepped up and smashed it straight at goal beating Luis Barreto. The Mumbai FC custodian should have done much better though as his positioning was all over the place, which allowed him to be caught out so easily.
The goal really spurred Jamil's boys as they upped the tempo. Just five minutes later Gabriel Fernandes could have equalised as he missed from point blank range, smashing the ball high over Shilton Paul in goal. The move started with Yakubu who drifted to the right before slipping the ball to James Singh in the box who found Gabriel with a perfect pass.
Just around the half hour mark, Mumbai FC had another chance to level the score as Yakubu found space inside the box, dribbling past Shilton but was thwarted by an offside call from the referee. In any case Aibor Khongjee had made a great block to deny him.
With six minutes left for the half, Yakubu missed another chance to get the game back on level terms, as Nicholas Rodrigues found the striker with a perfect cross to the far post. Yakubu's header was just wide.
Youngster Manish Bhargav who started his first match in the I-League this season, tried his luck from distance as he cut in from the left and let loose an absolutely ferocious shot which unfortunately struck the side netting, much to the delight of Luis Barreto who was sent scampering.
With the last shot before half time, Evans Quao went close from a free-kick which was just high off the goal.
The second half began in similar fashion for Mumbai FC who looked to keep up pressure as they outplayed Mohun Bagan in all departments. Bagan relied on playing long balls to Odafa who could not do much as he was marked brilliantly by the duo of Justine Stephen and Haroon Amiri, both of whom had an excellent game.
The match really sparked to life as big man, Abhishek Yadav was brought on to add height to the Mumbai attack. It paid off almost immediately as just after the hour mark, a long speculative ball into the box by Amiri from a free-kick inside the Mumbai half caught Shilton Paul in no man's land as he came to punch the ball. Yadav took full advantage to flick the ball into the back of the empty net.
Immediately from the restart, one of the long balls to Odafa almost found the Nigerian scoring as he outmuscled Stephen to power a header, which went just inches higher of the goal.
Although Mumbai FC dominated play, with the Mariners reduced to mere spectators, they did not have any more clear cut chances to speak of. Half chances to Abhishek Yadav as he made a nuisance of himself in the Bagan penalty box could not be put away.
With ten minutes left to go, Nirmal Chettri almost gifted the home side a goal, as he tried to dribble past ND Opara, on receiving the ball from Shilton. Opara pounced on the ball but Nirmal made amends as he dived right on time to block the big man's effort.
Karim Bencherifa earned his first point back as the manager of Mohun Bagan but he will certainly not be happy with the way his team performed as the midfield looked aimless with the defense playing long balls to Odafa upfront.
Khalid Jamil meanwhile will consider his team unlucky not to have bagged all three points from a match where they were on top for almost the entire ninety minutes.
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