Mohun Bagan ended a forgettable I-League season on a bright note beating Shillong Lajong FC 2-1 in a concluding round match at the Salt Lake Stadium on Sunday.
Having released its Nigerian striker Okolie Odafa, who had commanded the highest pay purse in the country in the three seasons he spent with the club, Mohun Bagan employed its young recruit Pankaj Moula to combine with the other Nigerian Christopher Chizoba in the attack. Moula proved his worth opening the scoring for the host in the sixth minute. Boithang Haokip restored parity for Lajong FC midway through the second half before Chizoba realised the winner for Bagan later in the match.
Mohun Bagan’s Moroccan coach Karim Bencherifa, who is unlikely to retain his job next season, employed a lot of youngsters from the bench seeking a winning conclusion to an unremarkable season.
The host made a strong start with Moula getting the lead off a nice assist from Ujjal Hawladar in the sixth minute.
Bagan earned a few more scoring chances but the visitor’s defence held up the attacks to have the host leading by a lone goal at half-time.
Lajong FC regrouped well after the break and found the equaliser off substitute Boithang Haokip’s solo effort in the 61st. Bagan’s third attacker C.S. Sabeeth then hit the post in the 73rd minute before Chizoba got the winner two minutes later.
The Nigerian striker collected the ball in his own half, made a long run ripping apart the Lajong defence before driving the ball home.
Bagan tallied 28 points from its full quota of 24 matches to better its position in the bottom half of the standings. Shillong Lajong FC ended with 33 points from 24 outings to finish in the top-half of the table.
At Kolkata: Mohun Bagan 2 (Pankaj Moula 6, Christopher Chizoba 75) bt Shillong Lajong FC 1 (Boithang Haokip 61).
At Pune: Mumbai FC 1 (Ebi Sukore 20) lost to Mohammedan Sporting 2 (Hasegawa 25, Orji Penn 85).