Former champion Mohun Bagan returned to winning ways shunning the disappointment of successive losses when it beat holder Minerva Punjab FC 2-0 at its home here at the Salt Lake Stadium on Wednesday. The win, its fifth in 12 appearances, kept Mohun Bagan’s title hopes alive as it started afresh under the stewardship of the new coach, Khalid Jamil.
Egyptian midfielder Omar Elhussieny found the lead off a first-half penalty before Cameroonian striker Aser Dipanda Dicka fetched the insurance goal midway through the second half.
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Struggling in the middle of the current standings with erratic performances, Mohun Bagan’s plight was compounded by a string of poor results at home. The team picked up just five points in the previous five home outings (from a lone win, two draws and as many losses) to fall down the ladder in the league standings. This saw the departure of head coach Shankarlal Chakraborty as Bagan leaned on Jamil’s credentials (that boasted of the I-League title for Aizawl FC) hoping to resurrect the team’s fortune.
The Bagan attack, which was turning out to be the Achilles heel for the side, came good as Jamil made a few changes opting for more men in the midfield with a lone striker in Dicka. The coach also made some alterations in the defence and midfield looking to perk up the performance. Bagan secured the lead around the half-hour mark when Minerva’s central defender Lancine Toure brought down Dicka, who appeared to be running clear on receiving a through-pass from Sony Norde, inside own box to secure the host a penalty. Elhussieny scored from the spot to get lead and the confidence back in the Bagan ranks.
With the regular striker William Opoku benched with injury, Minerva’s Irish coach Paul Munster put Japanese Yu Kuboki and Prabhjot Singh in the attack. The combination failed to produce the result as Bagan continued to dominate the proceedings while Minerva defended mostly keeping majority of its players in own half.
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Bagan took the match beyond the grasp of the visitor in the 69th minute when another nice lay-off from the Haitian playmaker, Norde, saw Dicka getting his fifth goal of the tournament. The win enhanced Bagan’s tally to 18 points from 12 matches but it continued in the sixth position with a point behind traditional rival East Bengal. Minerva Punjab remained on 13 points after playing 12 matches.
The result: Mohun Bagan 2 (Omar Elhussieny 30-pen, Aser Dipanda Dicka 69) bt Minerva Punjab FC 0.