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JCT’s turn to stun Bagan

other Updated: Oct 09, 2009 02:59 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times
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Shocked beyond belief, a red-faced Jose Barreto watched his team retreat to the sidelines from the gallery adjoining the press box as hysterical fans surrounded him, chanting his name feverishly. The scoreline read 2-1 in favour of a physically superior JCT. But it wasn't the result that was the worst nightmare that struck Mohun Bagan in their second round I-League match - extended by 10 minutes - at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan.

Second loss on the trot, six bookings - including a double booking that led to captain Deepak Mondal's ouster - and losing N. Mohanraj to an unintentional but ferocious Baldeep Singh kick in the lower abdomen, it was a night that Karim Bencherifa and his team would like to forget quickly.

Mohun Bagan, though, have themselves to blame for the upset. Luck, too favoured the Phagwara team. JCT, on the other hand, were struggling to cope with the artificial turf and an opposition looking to push forward. The midfield had virtually surrendered bastion to Mohun Bagan but their inability to finish off the game gave JCT the necessary breather to regroup. And they fired in the very first minute after the break, thanks to a Penn Orji scorcher.

Right back Zenith Genius's feeble clearance of a Balwant Singh cross allowed the Nigerian to drill in a piledriver. Nine minutes later, Baljit Sahni latched on to a long cross from the centre for tailing Rakesh Masih to slam it across Paul's outstretched hands.

That saw Bencherifa straightaway supplanting an off-sheen Micky Fernandes by Suroj Mondal, adding a front third to the attack.

But tragedy struck just after the hour mark. N MohanRaj, in one of his petulant overlaps, was struck in the lower abdomen by Baldeep's misdirected kick.