The flames were back on the stands and so were the smiles. For the third time in as many games Mohun Bagan have won on penalties but nothing was as sweet as the one they won at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Saturday evening.
In front of 45,000 vocal supporters, Mohun Bagan once again rode their luck to win the Peerless 28th Federation Cup, beating Sporting Clube de Goa 3-1 on penalties after the match finished 1-1 after 120 minutes.
This was Mohun Bagan’s 12th title, and most importantly one that put Kolkata football back on the domestic map.
Finally Mohun Bagan’s ‘dream team’ was on a roll. The win also gave Mohun Bagan the passport to next season’s AFC Cup.
Sporting Clube de Goa, who played wonderful football throughout the tournament, once again had to finish second-best.
Jose Carvalho hit the upright with his first shot from the tie-breaker, Ernest Jeremiah saw his effort blocked by Sangram Mukherjee while Jagdish Pappai put his shot wide as the stadium burst into loud cheers.
But no one was perhaps more pleased than Bhaichung Bhutia. In 16 years’s service, this is one title which has eluded the India captain. Bhutia, who also picked up the Most Valuable Player award for his four goals, dedicated the title to his first coach, Manas Chakraborty, who passed away recently.
Harmanjot Khabra opened the scoring in the 5th minute with a lovely volley. Mohun Bagan upped the ante and were on level terms in the 28th minute.
Again it was Mehtab, whose floater from the right was beautifully headed in by Vidal, making amends for his earlier defensive lapse. The match was truly on.
It was a different Mohun Bagan that turned out on the pitch. They looked determined and had a sense of purpose. Players were throwing themselves for 50:50 balls and taking the game to the Goan rivals.
Barring an opportunistic floater from the left by Sushil, the 30 minutes of added-on time offered very little and it was down to penalty shootouts to decide the champions.
Mohun Bagan 4 (1) (Fabio 28)
Sporting Clube 2 (1) (Khabra 5)