Principal Correspondent

BARASAT: Vasco SC stunned title aspirant Mohun Bagan 1-0 to open up the contest in Group D league of the 30th Federation Cup football here on Sunday.

In another match of the same group, Air India escaped with a last minute equaliser to hold qualifier Oil India Limited (OIL) 1-1.

No team has a clear edge at the end of the second round with three teams remaining in contention in the race for the group topper.

The last round of group league on Tuesday would decide the qualifier.

As of now Air India enjoys the top slot with four points, while Mohun Bagan and Vasco remain close second with three points each. OIL has dropped out of the race.

Having rested its Brazilian striker Jose Barreto, Mohun Bagan tried in vain for the incisive thrust that could break the overly populated Vasco defence in the first session.

Lalawmpuia, who replaced Barreto to partner Baichung Bhutia in the Bagan attack, struggled to fill in.

Bagan’s other Brazalian, midfielder Marcos Pereira, tried a long-ranger only to see the Vasco custodian Lamikant Kattimani pull off a diving save.

With his first selection failing to make much headway, Mohun Bagan’s Moroccan coach Karim Bencherifa brought out Barreto from the bench in place of Lalawmpuia early in the second session. Barreto made his presence felt with a measured through-pass in the 59th minute that released Pereira inside the Vasco box. However, the latter could not beat Kattimani, who rushed out to block.

Pereira next saw his 66th-minute freekick hitting the Vasco upright before Kattimani made another save off a Kisku header in the 71st minute.

As Bagan continued to see its attempts being aborted, substitute Agnelo Colaco fetched the lead with a 78th-minute long-ranger.

Big achievement

Unfortunate to be forced into a draw with the last-gasp equaliser, OIL cornered all the glory for holding Air India — an I-League side.

The first session remained goalless with OIL playing overtly defensive.

The Air India defenders had a tough time containing the OIL attacks, which came up from both flanks and in quick succession.

Air India custodian Arup Debnath foiled OIL’s first attempt tipping over a 52nd-minute attempt by Okwuelum Ezekiel.

OIL striker Durga Boro found the crosspiece denying his 59th-minute header before Raju Konwar bulged the Air India net with a rasping pile-driver in the 65th minute (1-0).

Just as the Assam side appeared to have realised an upset win, Michael Tayo fetched the equaliser in the last minute of regulation time.

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