Shivajians further diminishes Mohun Bagan’s title hopes

DSK Shivajians came back from behind twice to hold defending champion Mohun Bagan 3-3 in a 16th round match of the I-League at the Vidyasagar Stadium, Barasat on Saturday.

Trinidad and Tobago striker Cornell Glen scored twice for Bagan but that wasn't enough to get all three points   -  AP (file photo)

DSK Shivajians came back from behind twice to hold defending champion Mohun Bagan 3-3 in a 16th round match of the I-League at the Vidyasagar Stadium, Barasat on Saturday. For Bagan, Trinidad and Tobago striker Cornell Glen scored twice while Haitian Sony Norde struck once while the Shivajians saw Spaniard Juan Quero scoring two goals before Asier Dipanda fetched the equaliser in the end.

Needing a win to sustain its chances of retaining the title, Mohun Bagan fell back in the race suffering its second draw in a winless run that stretched to four successive matches. The reigning champion got into a desperate situation losing two and drawing one in the previous three rounds to mess up the decisive phase of the campaign. For the Shivajians the spectacular recovery continued as the team extended its unbeaten run to seven successive matches. The draw gave the advantage to former champion Bengaluru FC, which faces East Bengal at home on Sunday.

Playing its penultimate match, Mohun Bagan tallied 27 points from 15 matches but its position on top of the standings is likely to be ended by Bengaluru (26 points) or East Bengal (24), as both of them have played two matches less compared to Bagan. Shivajians remained in the fourth position with 15 points from 14 matches.

Mohun Bagan did not look to be let down in the first half as Spaniard Juan Quero Barasso sought to take the game away with two goals around the half hour mark. The Real Madrid youth product made the most of the confusion in the host defence and finished two fine counter-attacks in the 30th and the 34th minutes to silence the packed galleries and put the host behind 2-1.

Mohun Bagan opened the scoring in the 26th minute when Cornell Glen put home a rebound after Jeje Lalpekhlua’s first attempt was blocked by the Shivajians’ goalkeeper Subrata Paul. Realising that defence would not be the right option, Mohun Bagan regrouped quickly and found its effort rewarded in the 41st minute when Norde, returning from an injury layoff, tore into the Shivajians box and finished with a rasping grounder (2-2). Continuing with the momentum, Mohun Bagan regained the lead in the added-time when Glen found the mark off a sharp left-footer. Glen made it a fine individual effort as he outsmarted the two Shivijians defenders, Zohmingliana Ralte and Sandesh Jhingan, before placing the ball in the net with an angular half volley.

The change of ends saw Mohun Bagan earn a few more chances to enhance the lead but the goal route dried up for the host. Dhanachandra Singh saw his 52nd minute long-ranger come off the crosspiece before Glen angled his header, on a Probir Das assist, too wide to find the ball missing an open net. Another snap counter-attack in the 75th minute saw Dipanda nodding home a cross from substitute Israil Gurung to send the hopes of Mohun Bagan up in smoke.

The result: Mohun Bagan 3 (Cornell Glen 26, 45+1, Norde 41) drew with DSK Shivajians 3 (Juan Quero 30, 34, Asier Dipanda 75).