Echoes of “well played Barreto, well played Barreto” were heard even as fans tiptoed across the Ambedkar Stadium to watch Mohun Bagan and Mahindra United play out an exciting draw in the Durand Cup quarterfinal league on Tuesday.
The Brazilian born Mohun Bagan captain gave his fans something to cheer about when he blasted the long aerial ball he collected from Dipendu Biswas on the right into the net in the 27th minute. Mahindra custodian Amit Nandy had no clue to that rasping hard footer from Barreto.
That broke the shackles for Mohun Bagan after the initial 20 minutes saw Mahindra United having better possession of the ball. Soon, Bagan found their groove with Barreto, Dipendu Biswas and Chinmoy Sarkar working in tandem and often threatening the rival defence. Barreto’s presence preoccupied the rival defence so much that they often left other Bagan players unmarked.
The scoreline would have read 2-0 in favour of Bagan had it not been for a valiant save by Mahindra goalkeeper Amit Nandy, who just managed to ward off Dipendu Biswas’s shot in the 25th minute.
Mahindra nearly equalised in the 37th minute. Skipper S Venkatesh had ample time to send the ball past the goalkeeper after Bhola Prasad’s shot rebounded off the crossbar but Bagan goalkeeper Sangram Mukherjee was equal to the task and parried off Venkatesh’s shot thus depriving the Mumbai outfit of the much needed equaliser.
But football can be wicked at times to one team and fair to another. After the breather, Mahindra looked a completely transformed team. The Mumbai outfit signalled their intent within minutes by playing an all round attacking game.
The strategy bore fruit when Mahindra’s Samson Fernandes headed in a cross from Felipe Azavedo after a James Singh corner minutes into the second half. The strike left the Bagan fans dazed for a while.
Bagan coach B Bhattacharya was disappointed and felt his players did not play in their positions. “I think we lacked mobility because the boys were not playing in their positions. We couldn’t play to our potential,” he said. Earlier, Dudu scored the lone goal in the 72nd minute to help Sporting club de Goa beat Air India.