Shillong: After a draw against Aizawl FC, Mohun Bagan roared back to winning ways, thumping Shillong Lajong 3-0 at the Jahawarlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong on Saturday.
Dipanda Dicka (30′), Akram Moghrabi (86′) and Sheikh Faiaz were the goalscorers for the visitors, who now have toppled arch-rivals East Bengal to move to the third position with 20 points from 12 matches.
Before the match, coach Sankarlal Chakraborty had talked of the weather being a concerning factor for them but their performance on Saturday looked like they were a team driven by the need to win as any matches as possible. Chakraborty had decided to give Azharuddin Mallick a start in the right wing while Nikhil Kadam was deployed in the left.
The Mariners were dominant right from the outset and Shillong’s defensive play only helped them gain more control over the match. But as the match progressed, Shillong were slowly finding their feet and was starting to make their way into the match while Bagan found it tough to hold on to the ball.
But Dicka, who had scored one of the fastest goals in league history few matches back against East Bengal, showed his class as he received a wonderful ball from Cameron Watson and came up with a powerful header which went past Lajong custodian Lachenpa.
Although the hosts came close to scoring on a number of occasions at the end of the first half, a defiant Mohun Bagan held on to their lead and didn’t let the momentum shift from them. Shillong’s Samuel Lalmuanpuia had created a good chance for an equaliser through a volley towards the end of the first half but was denied by Shilton Paul.
The second half saw a lot of fast-paced action but Shillong found it hard to find an equaliser as Mohun Bagan were determined to not let the game slip away at any moment. The home fans were left further disappointed after Koffi’s failed to head one in.
But the former I-League champions made use of the opportunities they created and they netted two in quick succession at the end to pile on more agony for the hosts. First it was Lebanese striker Moghrabi, who has performed well for the Green and Maroon brigade, ever since joining them midway into the season.
A beautiful ball by Raynier was calmly converted into a goal by Moghrabi, who doubled his team’s lead. However, the visitors weren’t done yet and Faiaz was next to get on the scoresheet in the 89th minute.
A 3-0 win in adverse circumstances would undoubtedly be a huge confidence booster for Mohun Bagan ahead of their next match against Chennai City in Coimbatore on February 7. Lajong would go up against table-toppers Minerva Punjab, the same day.