In the other match, Garhwal FC are effectively out of the qualification race following a 0-1 loss to FC Bengaluru United in the second match of the I-League Qualifiers held today.
Black Panthers maul ARA
After a narrow win on the opening day, Mohammedan Sporting Club registered a dominant performance against ARA FC to claim a 4-1 victory at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.
Coach Yan Law made a host of changes from the first match leaving out the likes of Munmun Lugun and Himanshu Jangra. Nepalese striker, Abhishek Rijal, started alongside Willis Plaza to give the Kolkata team more firepower up front.
Vanlalbiaa Chhangte on the right wing provided the attacking impetus as Mohammedan SC controlled the match from the first minute. Willis Plaza was benefactor in the 13th minute as Chhangte’s cut back from the right was turned in by the Trinidadian to make it 1-0.
Eight minutes later, Rijal made it 2-0. Chhangte was involved again with a cross to find Mondal on the left flank, who in turn hit the ball back across the goal for Rijal to finish from close range.
At the stroke of half time, Rijal started a move with a tackle on the left. His run into the box culminated into taking the ball off the feet of Chhangte and slam home from close range to make it a 3-0.
The second half started in a similar vein with Willis Plaza coming close to scoring his team’s fourth, only for goalkeeper Iprotip Das pulling off a save in the 51st minute.
Two minutes later, ARA FC pulled one back. Sreekuttan’s run on the counter and his pass was turned into his own net by Mohammedan SC defender Safiul Rahaman. 3-1.
The own goal did not deter the Black Panthers as they continued to dominate the match. Faiaz put his name on the scoresheet with a left-footed finish from inside the box to wrap up the 4-1 win.
With six points in two matches, Mohammedan Sporting is in a strong position to return to the I-League.
Opoku strikes to keep Bengaluru United’s hopes alive
FC Bengaluru United bounced back from their loss on the opening day with a narrow 1-0 win over Garhwal FC at the Kalyani Stadium.
After both teams lost their opening day fixtures, they needed three points to stay in contention for I-League qualification.
Bengaluru United went ahead in the eighth minute when William Opuku found the back of the net.
Arun Kumar put Ronaldo Oliveira on goal as the former Salgaocar forward beat the offside trap. Sayak Barai got down to save Ronaldo’s shot and the rebound fell to the Ghanaian forward who put the ball in the back of the net.
The game was fairly open as Garhwal abandoned their defensive approach to the game. FC Bengaluru United’s possession play kept the Garhwal players at bay for most of the first half.
Opuku nearly doubled the lead when a back pass to Garhwal defender Neeraj Bhandari allowed the attacker to have a shot at goal. Sayak got down well to defend his goal.
At the other end, Rahul Das sent in a Rory Delap-like throw into the FCBU box. Bhandari’s flick nearly found Uttam Rai – who was poised to head in the equalizer. Amey Ranawade’s timely intervention kept the Bengaluru team ahead.
FCBU goalie, Kunzang Bhutia, had to deal with multiple set piece plays as Garhwal went in search of the equalizer.
At the hour mark, Mahip Adhikari’s cross from the right was met by Uttam Rai’s diving header. The lack of power meant Bhutia was not under pressure.
With five minutes to go, the Garhwal team went up in arms for a handball in the penalty box only for the referee to look the other way to all but end their hopes of qualifying for the I-League.
All to Play for in Round Three
The next round will provide an opportunity for Bhawanipore FC to keep up with the table toppers when they take on Garhwal FC.
Bhawanipore will continue to miss the services of Ansumana Kromah. The Liberian striker is in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. Oddly, there were reports that Kromah had breached the bio bubble by showing up at practice.
In the other match, FC Bengaluru United will take on ARA FC as both teams aim to pick up three points to stay in the hunt.
Both matches will be played on the 14th of October.
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