Pritam Kotal scored a late goal to ensure three crucial points for Mohun Bagan against Pune FC. Table toppers Pune FC faced their first defeat of the Hero I-League. Karim Bencherifa had come back to Kolkata to face his former team Mohun Bagan for the league encounter.
Mohun Bagan coach Sanjay Sen made three changes in the starting XI. Young goalkeeper Debjit Majumder replaced captain Shilton Paul under the bar. Also Jeje Lalpekhlua and CS Sabeeth were fielded in place of Manish Bhargav and Balwant Singh. Karim Bencherifa kept his starting XI unchanged.
Game loses direction after bright start
Both the sides looked to play attacking football from the beginning of the game. Jeje Lalpekhlua took a blinder of a shot from 30 yards away which was brilliantly saved by Amrinder Singh.
Pune FC’s marquee signing Drako Nikac too got an opportunity. He dribbled past a couple of defenders only to see his shot getting deflected by Kingshuk Debnath.
Around the 18th-minute mark, Katsumi Yusa guided the ball into the Pune goal, but the referee rightfully awarded a handball in favour of Pune FC.
The game seemed to have lost the quality in the middle stages of the first half as both teams failed to generate constructive moves. Too many mis-passes characterized the play.
Pritam Kotal shines in dull second half
Karim Bencherifa substituted Thongkhosiem Haokip in the second half who looked out of shape throughout the first half.
Both the teams continued with their lacklustre football in the second half. Some minutes into the second half, Pritam Kotal made a brilliant solo run down the flank and dribbled passed three Pune FC defenders before getting stopped by Luciano Sabrosa.
Pritam finally broke the deadlock in the 77th minute when he scored via a header. Substitute Balwant Singh forwarded a brilliant pass to Sony Norde on the flank who had a lot of empty spaces in front of him. He floated a cross which beat every Pune FC defender and reached Kotal. The young Mohun Bagan right-back scored his maiden Hero I-League goal with ease.
Mohun Bagan could have doubled their lead in the 83rd minute If only Balwant would have successfully converted a pass to Sony Norde who was unmarked.
Mohun Bagan continued their fine form in the I-League with victory. They go further up in the league table.