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Posted at: Jan 10, 2019, 7:56 AM; last updated: Jan 10, 2019, 7:59 AM (IST)

Minerva FC go down to Bagan

Minerva FC go down to Bagan
Mohun Bagan players celebrate their 2-0 win over Minerva Punjab FC at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Wednesday. I-League

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 9

Mohun Bagan scored a goal in each half to beat defending champions Minerva Punjab FC 2-0 at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Wednesday to earn much-needed three points and brighten their chances of a top-half finish.

It was a winning start for head coach Khalid Jamil, who joined the Mariners at short notice, after Shankarlal Chakraborty stepped down following their back-to-back defeats.

Egyptian midfielder Omar Elhussieny struck a first-half penalty and Cameroonian striker Dipanda Dicka scored his fifth goal of the ongoing I-League championship after the break to give Bagan their fifth win and take their tally to 18 points from 12 games. 

Minerva FC remain on 13 points from as many games and are currently placed a spot below Bagan in seventh place. 

The new coach opted to play both Gurjinder and Dalraj in the Bagan defence and brought back Abhishek Ambekar in the left-back position, placing Arijit Bagui on the bench after a long time. 

He also did not start Ugandan forward Henry Kisekka and began with Dicka as the lone striker up front, with Haitian star Sony Norde on the left wing.

Minerva’s Irish coach Paul Munster, on the other hand, started with yet another new combination of Yu Kuboki and Prabhjot Singh upfront as star striker William Opoku was out with injury.

Bagan dominated possession from right from the word go, while Minerva defended with nine in their half and it seemed for a while that the home team lacked ideas on how to find a way through.

Omar found an opening, releasing Dicka into the box on the right with a wonderfully weighted ball. The Cameroonian seemed to have been brought down by Minerva full back Lancine Toure, but referee Srikrishna Ramaswamy did not blow for a penalty.

He did award the Green and Maroons a spot-kick, however, at the half-hour mark, with the same attacker-defender combination involved, only this time on the other side of the box and the ball this time coming in from Sony Norde. Omar made no mistake from the spot to put Bagan ahead.

The hosts took the one-goal advantage into the break and the second half began in the same fashion as the first with Minerva still finding it difficult to push up front amidst controlled possession play by Bagan.

Minerva’s compact defence was breached for a second time in the 69th minute when a Sony through ball to Dicka saw the two-time top scorer of the Hero I-League jump the off-side trap to beat Bhaskar Roy in the Minerva goal with a clinical finish.

Five minutes later Omar had a chance to put Bagan three up when great build-up play by SK Faiaz and Bagan’s Japanese midfielder Yuta Kinowaki saw the latter set up the Egyptian for a shot on goal, but Roy palmed the stinging effort out of danger.

Minerva continued their struggle to find a good attacking formation and with Opoku out with injury, the task seemed even more arduous. Munster brought on the likes of Moinuddin — in place of Kuboki, Dilliram Sanyasi and Makan Winkle Chote in the second half, but the goal remained elusive.

Bagan will next play Neroca FC at home in two days time, while Minerva enjoy a 10-day break before hosting Gokulam Kerala.

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