I-League: Bengaluru FC 1-1 Mohun Bagan, Rasaq’s late equaliser wins it for the Bengal side
Mohun Bagan have bagged the I-League trophy after 13 years courtesy of a late equaliser from Bello Rasaq. Home side Bengaluru FC took the lead in the 41st minute from John Johnson’s header. Bello Rasaq scored the equalising goal in the 87th minute from a header. The draw was enough for the Mariners to secure their fourth national title.
Ashley Westwood took a gamble by keeping Sunil Chhetri on the bench at the beginning of the match. Sanjoy Sen, as expected fielded his best team and went all guns blazing. Both the teams played attacking football from the very beginning, with Mohun Bagan dominating the possession by a small margin.
Udanta Singh who was fielded from the beginning did a commendable job in the first 20 minutes. His pace worked well for the home side as they troubled the Mohun Bagan defence in quite a few occasions.
First 15 minutes of the game was extremely exciting as both the sides attacked in numbers and it was an end to end stuff at the Kanteerava. The deadlock broke in the 41st minute when John Johnson scored from a header from Eugeneson Lyngdoh’s corner. Also, Sony Norde’s shot hit the crossbar and came back just before the first goal.
Mohun Bagan almost equalised at the stroke of half time when Balwant Singh got an easy opportunity to score, but his feeble shot was cleared by John Johnson from the goal line.
Bengaluru FC were physical and committed with almost 8 fouls in the first half. Westwood’s tactics of marking Katsumi Yusa and Sony Norde on the wings did wonders for the team in the first half as they went into the break with a goal advantage.
Bengaluru’s attacking flair disappeared in the second half as they concentrated more on defending and were dependent on counter-attacks. Mohun Bagan, on the other hand, looked desperate for an equaliser. Just after 5 minutes Pierre Boya got an easy chance to equalise but his shot from just 6 yards away went wide.
The home side was doing a commendable job in the midfield area successfully nullified Mohun Bagan’s attacks. Sanjoy Sen made his first change in the 82nd minute when Jeje Lalpekhlua replaced an ineffective Balwant Singh upfront.
Mohun Bagan were slowly piling up the pressure on Bengaluru FC defence. Ralte made quite a few saves to keep his team at bay. In the 87th minute, Mohun Bagan won back to back to corners and the second corner proved crucial as Bello Rasaq restored parity with a brilliant header of Sony Norde's corner.
Sunil Chhetri was fielded at the 90th minute but the Indian international failed to keep any mark. 5 minutes of extra time was added. Bengaluru FC attacked in numbers but failed to score a winner.
Bello Rasaq's late equaliser proved vital as the Kolkata giants picked up their 4th I-League trophy.