Mohan Bagan's, which was back in the I—League action after All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) decision to revoke the two-year ban, campiagn started on a disastrous note losing 0-2 to Salgaocar, here on Sunday.
Playing amidst heavy security with policemen guarding the team benches, Salgaocar scored through their foreign recruits Gabriel Obatola and Josimar da Silva. Facing relegation, Salgaocar was saved by the Gabriel Obatola and Josimar, who scored one goal each.
The Goan giants were in complete control as they had better ball possession. Salgaocar had a chance to surge ahead in the 12th minute when Gilbert Oliveira’s cross was handled inside the danger zone by Bagan defender Eche and referee Andrew Shekhar awarded a spot-kick, which the Nigerian striker Obatola failed to convert.
It was Obatola, however, who made amends and put Salgaocar ahead in the 35th minute after Josimar Martins had done extremely well to create panic in the Bagan defence with a superb run.
Bagan’s only chance of the first half fell for Tolgay Ozbey, but the Australian strikers’ attempt was well saved by Karanjit Singh.
In the second half, Bagan had an early chance which Snehashish Chakraborty missed, and after that it was Salgaocar who seized the initiative. Salgaocar’s second goal came in the 62nd minute and it was Obatola again who was at the heart of the action. His drive from inside the box was parried away by Arindam Bhattacharya only to see the ball fall on the path of Josimar who shot home to give Salgaocar full points and give the team breathing space as they are now above the relegation zone with 14 points from 16 matches.
Starting with a clean slate, Bagan failed to open their points tally and now have 15 matches to save relegation. It was also an embarrassing defeat for Karim Bencharifa, who had dumped the Goan outfit midway into the season after getting a lucrative offer from the Kolkata giants.