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Margao, February 22, 2020
Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan overwhelmed Churchill Brothers Goa 3-0 to inch three points closer to their second Hero I-League title at the Fatorda Stadium in Margao, Goa, on Saturday,
Former La-Liga and Senegalese striker Papa Babacar Diawara started the blitz as early as the sixth minute, with second-half strikes from VP Suhair and Tajik Komron Tursunov driving home the visitors’ dominance over the hosts.
Both coaches, Portuguese Bernardo Tavarez of Churchill and Spaniard Kibu Vicuna of Bagan were forced to make changes at the start of the game due to suspensions, but that did not seem to have too much of an effect on the scoreline.
The league leaders were off the blocks early with Diawara scoring his seventh in as many games. It also involved prominently the visitor’s two Spanish stars, who have been involved in almost every goal Bagan have scored this season.
Joseba Beitia played a free-kick out wide for Hero of the Match Fran Gonzalez, who headed square for Diawara coming in dutifully. The Senegalese tapped it home with the Churchill defence on his heals as it took a couple of deflections including that off the wrongfooted keeper, to hobble in.
Churchill fought back creditably after the setback and there was a period of play when they missed three clear-cut chances in the space of five minutes with the Dawda Cessay-Willis Plaza combination working wonders.
Bagan’s new defensive formation, with Trinidadian Daniel Cyrus and Gurjinder starting a game after a prolonged break, did well to absorb a determined Churchill push. Young SK Sahil, in particular, was impressive in snatching the ball from the opposition.
The Green and Maroons were looking good going forward and they did create a couple of golden chances of their own, but the first half could not find any more goals.
Soon after the restart, Suhair, another of Bagan’s standout performers this season doubled the lead, as he cut inside from the left and opened-up a side-footer that beat the keeper at the near post.
Seven minutes after Suhair’s strike, left-back Gurjinder found himself near Churchill’s right corner flag and floated in a cross, that took a slight touch off a defender and looped towards the centre of the goal.
Second-half substitute Tursunov followed the ball perfectly, rushing in from near the top of the box to leap in front of a shocked Jovel Martins, and with an aerial kick, stabbed it into the back of the net. Bagan were 3-0 up with more than half an hour left to play.
It was showtime after that and there was a span of play of about seven-eight minutes when Bagan missed at least four sitters, with Diawara inexplicably missing two of them. Bagan had a total of 18 shots, with nine of them on target.
The Kolkata outfit now has 32 points from 13 games, 11 clear of second-placed Punjab FC, while Churchill remain third with 19 points from 12 games.