ATK Mohun Bagan made its debut year significant by realising its path to the Indian Super League (ISL)final. Mohun Bagan beat NorthEast United FC 2-1 in an absorbing second leg of the semifinal at the Fatorda Stadium on Tuesday. With the first leg ending 1-1, Mohun Bagan won 3-2 on aggregate to move into the final, where it will meet Mumbai City FC on Saturday.
Mohun Bagan was the deserving winner as it controlled the majority of the action before NorthEast made a late resurgence to bring some excitement in the final 15 minutes of the contest. Mohun Bagan brought back the usual pair of Tiri and Sandesh Jhingan to do the vigil at the centre of its defence. This got the hard-working Carl McHugh, who played the previous leg as the central defender, and Javi Hernandez in a more creative role in midfield. This reinfused the rhythm in the Mohun Bagan attack where Roy Krishna and Williams got together to trouble the NorthEast defence.
Mohun Bagan showed the right intent and went in search of the goal immediately after the first whistle. On the other hand, NorthEast unsuccessfully tried a defensive approach despite employing three foreigners – Federico Gallego, Luis Machado and first leg’s scorer Idrissa Sylla – in its attack.
Mohun Bagan took the initiative with both Williams and Krishna raiding deep into the NorthEast territory on numerous occasions. Mohun Bagan could have got a bigger lead as it made an impressive 16 attempts at the NorthEast goal but only three were on target. One of this was Williams’ goal which came in the 38th minute. Krishna diverted a Javi pass through for Williams, who outran his markers to bring out a fantastic finish.
The change of ends saw a more resolved NorthEast trying to cancel Mohun Bagan’s lead and V.P. Suhair almost found it in the 47th minute but for the upright which blocked his attempt. Suhair, who played in Mohun Bagan colours in the previous season, found the target in the 74th minute to get NorthEast back in the game.
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But before that Mohun Bagan had doubled its lead with Manvir Singh brilliantly finishing a counter-attack in the 68th minute. Bagan could have scored earlier but for the NorthEast defender Ashutosh Mehta, who cleared Krishna's effort on the line in the 62nd minute.
NorthEast had a great opportunity to level the issue by earning a penalty in the 81st minute but the Portuguese winger Luis Machado failed to hold his nerve and sent the ball flying into the galleries from the spot. The miss, which otherwise could have easily given the team a good chance to plot a turnaround, will continue to haunt the NorthEast supporters for a long time.