Darryl Duffy deals in braces at Mohun Bagan’s new home ground this season. For the third time, the Scot scored twice at Rabindra Sarovar stadium as Mohun Bagan beat Aizawl FC 3-2 in a bruising I-League game that had three goals between the 63rd and 84th minutes. With six goals, Duffy now leads the goalscorers’ chart.
The result leaves Mohun Bagan and East Bengal on 16 points but the red-and-golds lead the standings with better goal difference. Both have played six games and East Bengal could go ahead when they host Chennai City FC on Sunday. After seven matches, Aizawl FC stay third on 13 points.
Duffy stooped to conquer in the second minute, arching in front to meet a waist-level delivery from Katsumi Yusa, who stepped in for the absent Sony Norde as wide left midfielder. But Mohun Bagan almost paid for not putting this match to bed early leading to Aizawl FC equalising through Jayesh Rane in the 41st minute here on Saturday.
Jeje Lalpekhlua put Mohun Bagan ahead again with a goal against the team from his state in the 63rd minute only for Ashutosh Mehta to level scores, heading home Rane’s corner-kick, in the 70th.
Duffy could have made it 2-0 in the ninth minute but couldn’t manage enough power behind his header to another Yusa offering. Had Prabir Das not shinned out with goalie Albino Gomes out of position, Mohun Bagan could have led 3-0 by the 28th minute.
Instead it was the small group of away team supporters who found their voice. Their drums first started rolling in the 28th minute when Alfred Jaryan failed to keep a shot on target.
Symptomatic of Mohun Bagan’s problems, especially at the heart of the midfield, was Sehnaj Singh’s needless foul that led to the move. That both Sehnaj and Bikramjit Singh were replaced tells it own story.
At 24, Rane isn’t as young as the Minerva Punjab FC’s goalscorers Baoringdao Bodo, who is 17, and Anirudh Thapa, 19, against Mumbai FC earlier on Saturday but he gave enough reasons to show Marco Materazzi, his coach as Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League, calls him ‘Neymar.’
Rane slotted home Stephane Kamo’s assist though it was the pass from Lamuan Kima, played on the left inside channel, that foxed Mohun Bagan central defender Kinshuk Debnath.
Aizawl FC began the second half stronger till Halder’s pass reached Lalpekhlua via Das. But when Mehta rose to score off Rane’s corner-kick, a draw seemed likely. Ironically, it was Mehta’s inability to match Yusa’s speed that led to a penalty which Duffy converted in the 84th minute.