BH CORRESPONDENT, Goa: Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan overwhelmed Churchill Brothers FC Goa 3- 0 at the Fatorda Stadium in Margao, Goa, on Saturday, to dispel any doubts of a freeze, with the crucial business end of the 13th Hero I-League season approaching fast. Former La Liga and Senegalese striker Papa Babacar Diawara started the blitz as early as the sixth minute in the reverse leg, with second-half strikes from VP Suhair and Tajik midfielder Komron Tursunov driving home the visitor’s dominance over the hosts.
Had the Mariners not missed sitters towards the end of the game, they could have garnered even a bigger win. Bernardo Tavarez of Churchill and Kibu Vicuna of Mohun Bagan were forced to make changes due to suspensions. The league leaders were off the blocks early with Diawara scoring his seventh goal in as many games. It also involved prominently the visitor’s two Spanish stars, who have been involved in almost every goal Bagan have scored this season. Joseba Beitia it was with the free-kick outwide for Hero of the Match Fran Gonzalez, who headed squarely for Diawara coming in dutifully following play. The Senegalese tapped it home with the Churchill defense on its heels and it took a couple of deflections including a wrongfooted Sukhdev Patil, to hobble in.
Churchill fought back after the setback and they missed three clear chances in the space of five minutes with the Dawda Cessay-Willis Plaza combination at the heart of two of them. Bagan defense, with Trinidadian Daniel Cyrus and Gurjinder at the heart of it after a prolonged break, did well to absorb a determined Churchill push.
Youngster Sk Sahil, in particular, like he has been throughout the league, was very impressive in his snatching and second-ball play. After the changeover, the Mariners hurled another attack on the Red Machines with VO Suhair pulled off a stunner.
Sahil originated the move from his own half and found Diawar who was left unmarked. Diawara immediately played onto Suhair, who was chased by a defender from left whereas three closed in from behind. The Malayalee attacker shrugged off his marker with pure strength and drove forward. Once he snuck in the 18-yard-box, he didn’t delay unleashing a powerful right-footer to beat keeper Patil all end up at the near post. Seven minutes after Suhair’s strike, left-back Gurjinder found himself near Churchill’s right corner flag and floated in a cross. It took a meek touch from a defender and looped towards the center of goal.
Second-half substitute Tursunov, from near the top of the box, leaped in front of Jovel Martins and with an aerial kick, stabbed the ball into the back of the net. Bagan were 3-0 up with more than half an hour left to play. It was showtime after that and there was a span of a few minutes when Bagan missed a few more chances, with Diawara inexplicably missing a couple of them from close. Bagan fired 18 shots in total, with nine of them on target. Following the win, Bagan have now amassed 32 points from 13 games, eleven points clear of second-placed Punjab, while Churchill remain third with 19 points having played one game fewer.
Meanwhile, Churchill will now travel to Kolkata to face East Bengal on February 29 whereas the Mariners will face TRAU at the Khuman Lampak Stadium on March 1.