Mohun Bagan clinch I-League title

ArrayBengaluru, (IANS) A late 86th minute header from Nigerian defender Bello Rasaq cancelled out a strike from English defender John Johnson to give Mohun Bagan their first I-League triumph as the visitors held Bengaluru FC to a 1-1 draw at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on a wet Sunday evening.

It was the fourth national title for Bagan after having won the last in 2002 when the tournament was named the National Football League.

Englishman John Johnson’s header in the 41st minute gave the home side the lead as he outjumped a number of Bagan defenders.

With only four minutes of regulation time and when all seemed lost for Mohun Bagan, Rasaq brilliantly headed the ball into the net to restore parity for his side and a national league win after 13 years.

Mohun Bagan ended the season with 39 points, while Bengaluru finish second on the ladder with 37.

The home side were more pressing of the two outfits in the first few minutes of the exchange as they created a few half chances.

It took Bagan some time to settle down in the wet conditions and then they too got into the groove which led to a brilliant mid-field tussle between the two sides.

The first real chance that went begging for the home side was when striker Robin Singh could only find the gloves of Shilton Paul as he mistimed his shot from close distance.

Shilton was caught napping again as a Eugeneson Lyngdoh cross managed to evade the Bagan goal and land on the roof of the net.

In the 39th minute after latching onto a through ball from Cameroonian striker Pierra Boya, Sony Norde ran a few yards before unleashing a right-footer that left the crossbar rattling, an attempt that deserved a better reward.

Meanwhile at the other end three minutes later, it was John Johnson who scored, heading in a corner from Lyngdoh.

At the nick of halftime, it was Norde’s pace again that outfoxed the Bengaluru defence as he squared the ball to Balwant Singh, Balwant weak shot, however, was cleared off the line by Johnson.

The home side went into halftime leading 1-0.

After the breather, it was the visitors who went into attack from the word go, needing a goal there were a lot of attempts on the Bengaluru half but none seemed to bore fruit for the mariners.

Just when it looked that Bengaluru were going to retain the coveted trophy, Bagan’s Rasaq turned out to be a saviour for his side as he powered home a header from close range.

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