It took Mohammedan Sporting only four minutes to open their account against Mumbai's Air India in the Durand Cup — Noel Wilson finishing off Mohammedan Sporting's first, and only, real attack of the match with a rasping right-footer.
However, that was as good as it got for the Kolkata outfit who finally lost 1-2.
The first half was end-to-end stuff, with neither team holding back in attack.
While Air India desperately looked for the equaliser, Mohammedan Sporting tried to double their lead. However, it were the Airmen who struck with a well-rehearsed training ground set-piece.
A long throw-in from left wing-back Uttam Singh was spectacularly put away by right wing-back Noel Fernandes, with the Mumbaikar timing his overhead kick to perfection. That was how the teams went in to the break.
In the second-half, Mohammedan Sporting coach, Subhas Bhowmick changed the system around, moving the brilliant Noel Wilson from centre to left and playing Bijen Singh up-front. Though the shuffling seemed to work for a little while, they couldn't find the second goal. Mohammedan Sporting seemed to lose ground and the match when Bhowmick substituted Bijen for Raman Vijayan.
The Tamil Nadu striker proved ineffective and Air India began dictating play. Air India finally made their possession count in the 81st minute when Zaheer Abbas's corner from the right was headed in by unmarked Nigerian striker Abiodun Kolawole Martins.
With this defeat, the Kolkata outfit face an uphill task in qualifying for the quarterfinal league. Apart from having to beat Assam Rifles by a huge margin, they also need the riflemen to win over Air India. Unlikely, but possible.
In the later kick-off, a spirited Tata Football Academy went down to two late goals by JCT. The youngsters from Jamshedpur showed great skill and maturity and pushed the NFL club all the way. TFA's centre midfielder, Henry, was the most impressive, pulling the strings and dictating the tempo. For the Punjab club, Parveen Kumar and Edeh Chidi scored.
A-I beat Mohammedan Sporting 2-1
JCT beat TFA 2-0
BSF vs TFA (1300hrs)
Assam Rifles vs Mohammedan Sporting