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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Mohun Bagan Super Giant crowned ISL Champions

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Kolkata: Mohun Bagan Super Giant became the Indian Super League (ISL) Champions by defeating Mumbai City FC by 2-1 at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan here on Monday night.

The Mariners thus wrested the title back from the Islanders courtesy of a goal each by Liston Colaco and Jason Cummings in this championship-winning clash in the City of Joy.

A late 89th minute strike by Lallianzuala Chhangte meant that the game went right down the wire, with eight minutes of added time in the second half adding excitement to this dramatic finish of the league stages.

However, the home side held their lead dear despite playing with 10 men after the sending off of Brendan Hamill in the 91st minute of the game.

Mohun Bagan Super Giant jumped to 48 points from 22 matches as a consequence of this result, thus edging past the now second-placed Mumbai City FC (47) by a solitary point.

Antonio Lopez Habas can thus add another feather to his illustrious cap in the ISL, after taking charge of the club at the mid-season point after they had succumbed to three straight defeats in the league in December.

Liston opened the floodgates with his thunderous, trademark effort from the left side of the box in the 28th minute of the match. He had been a teasing presence for the Mariners in that final third in the opening half hour of the game.

Eight minutes before the goal, he had missed nodding home a cross by Anirudh Thapa by a whisker. The latter received the ball outside the box on the right flank and sneaked in a smart delivery for Liston on the far post.

The attacker headed the ball, but it failed to hit the target. His efforts bore fruit thanks to a timely assist by Dimitrios Petratos, whose pass was received, held on, and hammered onto the top right corner effortlessly by the winger.

Mumbai City FC emerged as the more dominant of the two sides in the second half though, holding the possession for a reasonable period and knocking on the doors of the Mohun Bagan Super Giant backline. That simultaneously resulted in vacant spaces opening up in their own defensive unit, which was adequately pounced upon by Petratos and Jason Cummings as the match entered its final 20-odd minutes.

The attacking duo embarked on a lethal counter-attacking move before Petratos supplied the ball to Cummings on the right flank. The striker could have opted to play a one-two, but he instead trusted his scoring instincts to take on Mumbai City FC goalkeeper Phurba Lachenpa from a slightly challenging angle, before netting the ball to double the lead of the Mariners.

Mumbai City FC were naturally desperate to somehow crawl their way back into the proceedings, and they ended up overcrowding the Mohun Bagan Super Giant box.

Chhangte reaped rich benefits of the same by picking a short delivery given to him by Apuia near the right post and slotting it into the net in the 89th minute. That infused positivity amongst the visitors as even a draw would have been sufficient for them to finish atop the league table.

Hamill’s sending off came as further good news, but some smart tactical play by the Mariners towards the end ensured that they didn’t succumb to any more slip-ups and became the ISL 2023-24 League Winners.

Both these teams have qualified for the ISL semi-finals and they will compete against teams who will make it to the last-four after the playoffs.

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