Exuberance doesn’t always win you football matches but they can take you really close.
Lajong FC, playing Mohun Bagan for the first time in their 26-year-old history, lost Thursday's fifth round I-League match because they didn't have the class of Marcos Perreira and Edeh Chidi who showed he had the lungs and the ability to play alone in front.
Brilliantly executed, so audacious was the attempt that Perreira's winner stunned the packed house at the Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex here. Ishfaq Ahmed won a free-kick and from nearly 25 yards on the right, the Brazilian, noticing Marcus Basumatary slightly out of position, swerved one just enough to beat the near post and a goalkeeper who wasn't expecting anything this outrageous.
“I’ve worked on this and today, the goalkeeper seemed so far away that I thought it was worth trying. That it was an important goal makes it memorable,” said Perreira after Mohun Bagan's hattrick of wins. Mohun Bagan now have nine points. Lajong FC stay on six.
Coming so soon after Chidi scored with a header, muscling in to meet Snehasish Chakraborty's prompt, it was a double whammy Lajong FC couldn't absorb.
Lacking the physical presence of someone like Chidi, they still searched for the equaliser by punting long balls into the area but, barring a Michael Bassey free header which wasn't on target, couldn't pressure Mohun Bagan enough. The visitors’ defensive discipline did the rest.
They led early in the second half after troubling Mohun Bagan through the right channel in the first. Seikhohau Tuboi, 23, and formerly from Army XI isn't one of Indian football's better-known names but this Manipur striker may well be if he stays in form. His acceleration foxed Rakesh Masih forcing the penalty which skipper Aibor Khongjee blasted into the roof of Sangram Mukherjee's net.
Khongje and some of his mates went on an extended celebration run much to the delight of the full house. Another time and another place, he would have been booked for time-wasting, but perhaps referee P.K. Bose chose to go by the spirit and not the letter of the law.
After kick-off, Tuboi had breezed past Deepak Mondal before falling inside the area. It could have been a penalty but Bose awarded a goal-kick. The referee is the best judge is where Rozario left it but that, an early miss by right-side medio Niwan Gatphoh and another by James Giblee meant Lajong FC had nothing to show for the first-half.