Mohammedan Sporting ended up on the losing side of an exciting I-League match here at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan on Tuesday as Churchill Brothers picked up their third away victory of the season.
Finishing prowess made the difference as the Goan team won 2-1.
It was Mohammedan Sporting who seized the early initiative, earning the first corner of the match in the third minute and almost making it 1-0 two minutes later. Sheikh Faiaz, who was a livewire down the right, got into the box and could have gone for it himself but decided to pass to Mirlan Murzaev. He was under pressure from defender Ponif Vaz and could only hit the post.
Kibu Vicuna, the Mohammedan head coach, decided to play Marcus Joseph as a withdrawn forward once again and pushed Murzaev up front. Even though the former justified the coach's decision in a way by creating a lot opportunities, Murzaev failed to prove he is cut out for his job. He got two unmarked heading opportunities few minutes apart right in front of the goal in the first half. But he inexplicably headed the first one onto Churchill captain Momo Cisse's body, and on the second occasion, failed to even get a touch.
Mohammedan Sporting dominated for the first half an hour. Churchill got the first chance, even got the ball into the net, in the 33rd minute. Vaz headed in a Martin Chaves free-kick but the goal was disallowed for a foul on Mohammedan goalkeeper Zothanmawia.
Vaz was in the thick of things again four minutes later, this time in front of his own goal. Faiaz received a delightful through ball from Joseph, got into the Churchill box from the right and tried to pass to the middle but Vaz slid in for the clearance despite goalkeeper Albino Gomes being in a position to intercept. The ball could have easily gone in.
However, his side took the lead in style in the 42nd minute when Chaves passed to Sharif Mukhammad just outside Mohammedan box, and the Afghan midfielder coolly curled it over Zothanmawia, who was caught in no man's land.
Chaves had a great day and could have scored Churchill's second in the very next minute. The Uruguayan got open space down the right and tried to curl it in through the far post but missed it by a whisker.
The second half of this fascinating Hero I-League match started in much the same fashion with Mohammedan building attack after attack. Faslu Rahman, coming in as a substitute, served a delicious cross to Murzaev in the 60th minute. Only Albino's outstretched foot stopped it from going in. In fact, he looked impregnable in that period, while his defence looked unsteady. So much so that Cisse, who had an otherwise perfect match, had to pull down goal-bound Faslu with his hands. Referee Jehrul Islam correctly gave him marching orders.
But Mohammedan's one-man advantage did not last long. Ruatkima brought down a rampaging Chaves to receive his second yellow card and was sent off in the 73rd minute. However, Vicuna's men kept attacking and Joseph did put the ball into the net six minutes later, only to be ruled offside.
Then Churchill assistant coach Mateus Costa made the change that eventually settled the issue. He replaced Emmanuel Yaghr with Hero of the Match Abdoulaye Sane. His presence was not felt immediately. On the contrary, when Albino spilled a powerful shot by Sandip Mandi for Abiola Dauda to pounce on it and equalise in the 90th minute, it seemed Mohammedan will get away with a point.
But Sane spoilt their day with a terrific goal. He came in from the right and went for the goal with his left foot, through the far post. The Mohammedan Sporting defence could not have done much about it.
With this win, the Red Machines are now in fourth position on the table with 23 points, while the Black and White Brigade stay ninth with 17 points.
( 674 Words)