Mohun Bagan returned to winning ways after two barren draws, downing visitor DSK Shivajians 3-1 at home here at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium on Saturday. The host erased a goal’s deficit as the Shivajians went ahead midway in the first half through Milan Singh before Balwant Singh struck twice in a span of two minutes to give Bagan the lead by the end of the first half.
Katsumi Yusa scored a late penalty in the second half to make it 3-1 for Bagan, which tied traditional rival East Bengal on points (21) at the top of the standings.
DSK Shivajians, which held Mohun Bagan to a goalless draw in the first phase of the tournament in January, started more aggressively and almost went ahead in the 21st minute but for the Bagan custodian Debjit Majumdar who charged out in time to save a nice attempt from Spanish midfielder Juan Quero. Shivajians continued to dominate the exchanges with regular attack and found the opening three minutes after the half-hour mark when Quero got the best of Mohun Bagan defender Eduardo and set up Milan Singh with a nice low cross. The Manipuri midfielder out-sprinted his marker E. Anas to find the net with a deft tap and give Shivajians the much-needed lead.
Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen brought in couple of changes – introducing Katsumi Yusa and Prabir Das on the wings – looking to increase the momentum of Bagan’s attack. The ploy seemed to work out well as Balwant Singh restored equilibrium in the 42nd minute of the match.
Balwant gained from a poor clearance by the Shivajians’ goalkeeper Subrata Paul, who failed to clear a Pritam Kotal cross and put the ball in the path of Balwant to nod into an open net. Two minutes later, Balwant met another Kotal cross with a side volley to put Bagan in the lead before the break.
Balwant could easily have got his hat-trick in the second half but made a mess of two chances provided by Haitian winger Sony Norde. Finally, Katsumi Yusa made it 3-1 from the spot after Bagan earned a penalty when substitute Jeje Lalpekhlua was brought down inside the Shivajians’ box by defender Gourmangi Singh. Bagan tallied 21 points from nine matches while Shivajians remained on 10 points from as many matches.