Aizawl: Mohun Bagan for the second successive time dropped points away from home with another frustrating 1-1 draw against a 10 men Aizawl FC at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Thursday.
Bagan will however be happy after bouncing back despite going behind in the second-half, when substitue Lathathanga Khawlhring put the defending champions ahead in the 73rd minute but the Mariners equalised within the next five minutes through a penalty, that Manandeep calmly slotted in the net.
Standing at fifth with 16 points after 10 round of matches, the Mariners had the chance to go on top of arch-rivals East Bengal and close down the gap to just three points at the top, but were halted to a 1-1 draw. It however took them a notch above to fourth on 17 points after 11 games.
Aizawl meanwhile for the third time failed to win at home that kept them at sixth, on 15 points after 10 games.
Tempers flew high as soon as the match began, with Yugo Kobayash entering the referee’s books for a high boot on Cameron Watson as both sides fought for a win. Bagan were desperate to get their campaign back on track, while Aizawl searched for dominance at home.
The game seemed to have settled down from there and it was Akram Moghrabi who had the first gasp at goal when his shot flew wide after Raynier Fernandes had created an opening.
But despite the Mariners’ first shot at goal it was the Reds who dominated, with nine shots in the first 45 minutes, double to Bagan’s four.
The second half however was a different scenario as both teams gunned for the maximum. Andrei Ionescu had a chance but failed to pull the trigger, while Leonce Dodoz continued to torment Arijit Bagui in the right flank.
With chances not looking easy to come by, both coach turned to substitutions, but it was Paulo Menezes’ move that bore fruit. Khawlhring struck just five minutes after coming in. Dodoz who proved a little too much for Bagui delivered a superb cross into the Bagan box that was wonderfully parried away by custodian Shilton Paul, but took a deflection of the crossbar before finding Khawlhring, who made no mistake.
Aizwal’s joy was however short-lived as Bagan came back in the space five minutes, when Moghrabi was brought down in the D by Avilash Paul and Manandeep send him the wrong way from the spot.
The tempo boiled towards the end of the game and Moghrabi was at the centre of attention again. Aizawl captain Alfred Jaryan fouled the striker and was given a marching order but the scores remained unchanged.