Tribune News Service
Ludhiana, January 14
Punjab FC came tantalisingly close to beating Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan in their I-League match played at the Guru Nanak Stadium here today, but a late equaliser by the visitors helped them escape with a 1-1 draw.
The hosts had taken the lead through the seasoned Cameroon striker Dipanda Dicka in the first-half and they almost clinched a win, but Mohun Bagan’s teenaged striker Subha Ghosh scored the equaliser in the 88th minute. Bagan now have 14 points from seven games while Punjab move one place up to second spot with 11 points from eight. The draw ended Bagan’s four-match winning streak but Punjab managed to extend their unbeaten run, to seven matches now.
Mohun Bagan were more attacking at the start but Punjab played the offside trap to perfection to thwart any clear attacks on their goal, except a Fran Gonzalez effort early on.
Punjab, who had been working well on their set-pieces, went ahead off a corner which was taken short by Sanju Pradhan from the right. Cavin Lobo then floated in a cross, dropping it midway into the Bagan six-yard box. A lurking Dicka met it with a superb right-footer to beat goalkeeper Sankar Roy, landing the ball into the net. The Kolkata side piled up the pressure after conceding the goal, right up to the half-time whistle, but the equaliser remained elusive.
Punjab were more confident in the second half and the game was more end-to-end as a result, with both sides missing a flurry of chances.
An excellent save by Sankar Roy in the 56th minute, the first of three he made in the half, denied Sergio Barboza, who had found himself one-on-one with the keeper in front of the goal. Roy then had to dive full-stretch to stop a Sanju Pradhan grounder in the 72nd minute. Cavin Lobo also made an attempt in the 82nd minute, which deflected off defender Dhanachandra Singh, hit the crossbar and went out.
Bagan too had their share of easy misses. Papa Diawara, Bagan’s Nigerian recruit, found himself in a favourable position in the 60th minute but shot wide. Spaniard Joseba Beitia then shot over the bar from close in the 68th, while VP Suhair in the 70th also shot wide with only the keeper to beat. And when the substitute and new import Komron Tursunov of Tajikistan shot wide from close in the 85th, it looked all but over for the visitors.
However, young super-sub Subha Ghosh had other ideas. After a move into the Punjab box, Punjab defender Teah Dennis seemed in a favourable position to make a clearance. However, Ghosh crept up at pace from behind, snatched the ball from the toes of Dennis and unleashed a right-footer along the ground. — PTI
NEROCA FC edge out Real Kashmir 1-0
Imphal: Malian forward Boubacar Diarra scored the match winner as NEROCA FC beat Real Kashmir 1-0 to snap their 4-match winless streak in the I-League here today. Diarra headed home in the 62nd minute to give Neroca their second win of the season at the Khuman Lampak stadium. Neroca also jumped to the seventh spot with eight points from seven matches. Real Kashmir slipped one spot to 10th, just above bottom-placed Indian Arrows, with six points from six matches. Neroca head coach Gift Raikhan made a lot of changes to his line-up and the club came close to scoring in the seventh minute through a set-piece on the right flank was not dealt with properly. PTI