Mohun Bagan began a difficult March in the worst possible manner, outpaced and, in the second half, outplayed by Churchill Brothers whose bid for a maiden I-League gained momentum with a 3-1 win at home on Wednesday.
Symptomatic of Mohun Bagan's plight at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda was Jose Barreto dragging himself off the bench after the final whistle. After a brilliant solo effort that put the visitors ahead, Barreto limped off in the 65th minute. And Bagan’s hopes of reviving their title bid slipped, sliding away. Barreto is unlikely for next week's AFC Cup game against Syria's Al Karama.
Successive defeats after 10 straight wins mean the former leaders are now third on 33 points after 17 rounds. Churchill Brothers lead the table with 36 points. On 35 points after 17 rounds are Sporting Clube de Goa.
For the second successive game, Mohun Bagan conceded close to half-time. Sangram Mukherjee had done well to keep out a searing drive from Okolie Odafa but when Khantang Paite drove in an in-swinging kick, he went behind the prolific goalscorer and Churchill Brothers equalised.
The humid afternoon and Odafa’s goal seemed to have left Mohun Bagan drained after the breather. They defended desperately but when Ogba Kalu latched on to a mispass and went on to score, the Kolkata giants looked helpless.
Then Kalu dispossessed substitute Lalramluaha and found Odafa whose shot was blocked by Mukherjee but the energetic midfielder scored on the rebound.
Churchill Brothers 3
(Odafa 45, Kalu 57 & 77)
Mohun Bagan 1 (Barreto, 28)
Thursday's match: Sporting Clube de Goa vs Dempo
ND, Amity in keen clash
New Delhi: After their none-too-impressive show in the last edition, both New Delhi Heroes and Amity United would look to start afresh when they face off in their group B second division I-League match in Gurgaon on Thursday.
BMFC thrashed 1-4
Kolkata: Oil India thrashed Bengal Mumbai Football Club (BMFC) 4-1 in the I-League second division, at the S.M. Dev Stadium on Wednesday. On Thursday, ONGC play George Telegraph.