Football

Bagan regains I-League title in style

Champs: Mohun Bagan made it a memorable final season in the I-League when it regained the title with four rounds to spare.

Champs: Mohun Bagan made it a memorable final season in the I-League when it regained the title with four rounds to spare.  

Diawara’s spectacular strike does the trick; matches Dempo SC’s record

Babacar Diawara’s spectacular 80th-minute finish ensured Mohun Bagan’s crowning glory moment in the I-League at the Kalyani Stadium here on Tuesday. With the clash against Aizawl FC seemingly headed for a tame draw, Diawara’s winner ensured the full three points took Bagan’s tally to an unassailable 39 from 16 matches.

Bagan thus matched Dempo SC’s record — set in the 2009-10 season — of claiming the league title with four rounds to spare. If the NFL — the previous version of the league — and I-League are considered together then Bagan has also equalled Dempo’s tally of five titles. Dempo has three I-League and two NFL crowns while Bagan collected its second I-League title to add to the three NFL titles won previously.

Bagan, which will play in the ISL from next season having being acquired by ATK this year, thus made its last I-League season memorable.

Drab affair

The first half was a drab affair with neither opponent showing enough attacking intent.

The possession-based football that Bagan mastered under its Spanish coach Kibu Vicuna this season was largely absent as the host lacked the initiative to break into the opposition defence.

Aizawl FC, meanwhile, did a fairly good job in defence employing two towering centre-backs — Ghanaian Joseph Adjei and Ugandan Juuko Richard — whose strong physical presence posed a big challenge for Bagan’s attackers.

Aizawl, coached by Stanly Rozario, played the right game with regular counter-attacks that detained the host from going all out.

Good chance

Bagan created a good chance in the last minute of the opening half when Diawara released Tajikistan winger Komron Tursunov unmarked inside the box. The latter, however, failed to keep send attempt on target.

Bagan continued to struggle in the second half seeing most of its attacks fizzle out before the Aizawl FC box.

After a number of failed opportunities, emerging especially from set-piece situations, play-maker Joseba Beitia managed to create the opening that was finished brilliantly by Diawara. With this the Senegalese striker scored his 10th goal in 12 matches to become Bagan’s top scorer this term.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 7:29:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/bagan-regains-i-league-title-in-style/article31033770.ece

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