Mohun Bagan got a late lifeline and made full use of it, as a late penalty helped it outshine a spirited Aizawl FC 3-2 in a close I-League fixture here at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium on Saturday.
Darryl Duffy found the target twice, including the penalty in the final quarter of the action, while his partner Jeje Lalpekhlua chipped in with one to complete Bagan’s tally. Aizawl replied through Jayesh Rane and Ashutosh Mehta but could not prevent the second loss of the tournament.
Mohun Bagan joined current league leader East Bengal on top of the standings with 16 points apiece, but the latter remained at the summit with a better goal difference. Bagan made a good start, finding the net in the second minute of the action. Katsumi Yusa, the Japanese midfielder, made a fine interception before essaying a measured floater on the AFC goalmouth. Duffy dived low to divert the cross into the net ahead of his marker Kingsley Eze for a spectacular goal.
Mohun Bagan continued to dominate the first quarter of the action and could well have doubled the lead in the 24th minute had Prabir Das been more accurate with his effort. The missed opportunity came to haunt the host in the 41st minute when the visitor equalised off a fine counter-attack. Rane finished the fine move with the perfect touch after he was set up on the Bagan goal by his Ivory Coast colleague Stephen Bayi (1-1).
Aizawl FC stared brilliantly after the interval and was unlucky in not finding the lead as its attack floundered on the opponent goalmouth. The host earned the lead in the 62nd minute when Jeje complimented a fine cross from Prabir Das. Not willing to be let down, the visitor was quick to grab the equaliser once again as Mehta rose over the Bagan defence to nod home a Rane corner in the 70th minute.
The match appeared to be headed for a draw but Mehta made the blunder of pushing Yusa inside own box to allow Bagan a penalty in the 84th minute. Duffy made no mistake from the spot to ensure Bagan cantered home with the full quota of points.