Principal Correspondent

HASC flatters to deceive, faces relegation

BANGALORE: Two late goals by the wiry Nigerian Eric Bolwe Muputu not only helped Mohammedan Sporting snatch a 2-2 draw but also sunk Hindustan Aeronautics Sports Club's (HASC) hopes of remaining in the elite National Football League for another season.

At the football stadium here on Wednesday, HASC looked set to grab its second set of full points with a 2-0 lead by the 55th minute before the good work of its midfield was brought to nought by two ridiculous errors in the defence.

Sporting had been denied a first half equaliser thanks to the woodwork first and then by a goal-line save by substitute Ananda Vasan.

Tested line-up

With coach Krishnaji Rao playing his tried and tested line-up bringing in S. Sunil to team up with Xavier Vjaykumar upfront and teaming up Satish and Rajendra Prasad along with Ragui Singh and J. Murali HASC got its desired result soon.

In the fifth minute, the home side sent the goodly crowd into delirium with a snap goal.

Xavier's long punt was relayed to Sunil by Rajendra Prasad and the dapper striker, who was sidelined for months with an ankle injury, struck a firm left footer to jolt the Kolkata team.

Thereafter the match drifted into mediocrity although the Kolkata side come very close to getting the equaliser.

However, on change of ends, it was the aircraftmen who dominated. A `peach' of a goal by Murali, who curled a 35-yarder into the far corner, seemed enough to fetch the bottom-placed side full points.

But in the 82nd minute a fine cross from Jatin found an unmarked Muputu and his powerful header gave Balaji no chance whatsoever. And with the Kolkata side showing urgency and purpose, the equaliser came quickly enough.

With three minutes left for the final whistle, HASC stopper Alesh Shamaki, who manned the defence with zeal, failed to clear and the high ball dipped into the goalmouth and Balaji fumbled. Muputu toed the ball into the empty net to leave the home fans disbelief and disappointment.

Sporting has 11 points from 13 outings now, while HASC faces relegation with just seven points also from 13 matches.

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