Hero I-League: Kingfisher East Bengal settle for draw against competent Mumbai FC

KOLKATA: Mumbai FC fought valiantly as they held Kingfisher East Bengal 2-2 at the Barasat Stadium tonight, having ended the Red & Golds’ winning streak. The visitors scored through Steven Dias (15’) and Ashutosh Mehta (77’) on either half of the match when Ranti Martins (25’) and Bernanrd Mendy (59’) netted for the Red & Golds.
Fresh from a victory in the Kolkata Derby three days ago, Biswajit Bhattacharya kept faith on his players and went ahead with an unchanged lineup. Interestingly, Dong-Hyun Do found himself on the bench yet again.

Mumbai FC made three alterations from their last outing against Bengaluru FC. Kunal Sawant replaced Pawan Kumar in goal. As Eric Brown was unavailable, Steven Dias came into the midfield and Jamil preferred Pratik Chowdhary over Anwar Ali in defense.

The home side started brilliantly but had a chance wasted in the fourth minute itself. An unselfish Sanju Pradhan could have shot himself rather than passing the ball to Ranti Martins allowing Pratik Chowdhary to clear.

However, the visitors started to push themselves into the game after the first ten minutes. Rahul Bheke conceded a free-kick on the left just outside the box. Seasoned campaigner Steven Dias stepped up for the set-piece which hit the crossbar, Barreto being late to react. East Bengal averted the following rebound as Bernard Mendy came off with a clearance.

Fifteen minutes into the game, the away side broke the deadlock. Luis Barreto was booked as he came way outside the box to dab down Ryuki Kozawa. Steven Dias yet again took the free kick from near 25 yards and the former India international launched the ball into the net, beating an outstretched Barreto from an angular shot.
Sanju Pradhan pranced down the right flank and unleashed an excellent cross, which found Ranti Martins, who eventually swivelled in and struck into the top left corner of the net. The Nigerian striker brought up his twelfth goal of this campaign in style.

Bernard Mendy was back among the goals again as the home side regained the lead just before the hour-mark. Ranti received the ball from Dong and then sends it back to Mendy. Having chested it down, the Frenchman volleyed it into the top corner as Sawant had no chance.

The match was poised for a dramatic finish with Mumbai FC constantly testing the Red & Golds defense. Full back Ashutosh Mehta popped in a goal completely against the run of play. A free-kick from Jayesh Rane down the left flank found Ashutosh sneaking behind the defense with a free header that beat Luis Barreto as the Mumbai lad broke into the ‘champion’ jig, silencing the home crowd.

The 2-2 result brought smiles to the Mumbai camp that were having a torrid time in the Hero I-League as they jumped out of the relegation zone with 13 points.
For the hosts, it would be a demoralising result given the close competition for the title as they still trail leaders Mohun Bagan by two points with a game in hand.

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