Basundhara Kings rally twice to hold Mohun Bagan Super Giant to a 2-2 draw

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Asish Rai celebrates after scoring for Mohun Bagan Super Giants against Basundhara Kings

ISL champions Mohun Bagan Super Giants maintained their top spot in the 2023 AFC Cup Group D by playing a 2-2 draw against Bangladesh’s Basundhara Kings at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.

Juan Ferrando made three changes to the side that defeated Chennaiyin 3-1 in their last fixture before the international break. Hector Yuste replaced Subhasish Bose in the back three while Glan Martins and Ashish Rai took the positions of Anirudh Thapa and Manvir Singh in the midfield in a 3-4-1-2 formation. 

Basundhara Kings coach Oscar Bruzon made only one change to the side that beat Odisha 3-2 in their last AFC Cup encounter. Mehedi Hasan Srabon replaced Mehedi Hasan under the sticks in a 4-2-3-1 formation. 

After a lull spell of play in the initial moments that included a lot of fouls, Basundhara’s Asror Gafurov crossed the ball low and hard from the left flank towards the middle in the 16th minute but Yuste stuck out his boot to clear the danger posed by the Uzbekistan midfielder. 

Hugo Boumous looked menacing on the pitch under the lights with Basundhara defenders and midfielders being forced to foul him to halt his proceedings.

In the 29th minute, Seeing no one close him down, the Frenchman galloped down the right flank and drilled a low cross towards Jason Cummings. The Australian deflected the ball towards his countrymate Petratos who blasted the ball into the net with his first touch giving MBSG the deserved lead in the first 30 minutes. 

The hosts gave acres of space to Robson Robinho in the middle of the park and the Brazilian took the ball forward with a couple of touches before freeing Dori with a sumptuous through ball. Finding himself in a one-on-one position with Vishal Kaith, Dori curled his shot past the reach of the keeper to level the terms in the 33rd minute. 

Robinho continued to pose a danger on the Mariners’ defense with his shot from a distance two minutes later striking the woodwork as Kaith dived full-fledged but failed to get a hand to it.  

The Mariners could have regained their lead in the 44th minute after a cross-field pass found Liston Colaco closing in on goal. However, Mehedi made himself big enough to narrow the angles with the rebound falling towards Rai. The former Hyderabad wing-back got two chances at glory – his first shot was blocked by Saad Uddin while his second one angled past the goal. 

The first half ended with the scoreline level at 1-1 as both sides got a couple of chances to take the lead but missed their opportunities. 

In the 47th minute, Cummings released Colaco in the left flank and the Indian international aimed to pass the ball towards Petratos but Mehedi came out of his lines to collect the ball. 

One minute later, Robinho made a grounded pass down the centre towards Miguel Figueira as Yuste made a failed attempt to clear the ball. Despite being in a one-on-one position inside the box, Figueira failed to find the net as his shot hit the crossbar. 

The Mariners regained the lead in the 54th minute when Glan capitalized on a misplaced pass in the final third to lay a pass towards Petratos. The Australian released Rai on the right flank who took a shot after a couple of touches and the Basundhara goalkeeper failed to prevent the ball from crossing the goal line despite getting a faint touch.

In the 70th minute, Robinho surged into the left flank and tried to drift in but Rai fouled him inside the penalty box. The referee pointed towards the spot and Robinho stepped up to take the penalty which had enough power to blast the net despite Kaith guessing the direction of the shot correctly. 

Anwar Ali suffered an injury in the dying minutes of the second half

In the dying embers of the second half, Anwar Ali suffered an injury and had to be stretchered out of the field. His availability remains a cause of concern for the Indian National Team and Mohun Bagan Super Giant for the remainder of the season. The referee soon blew his whistle as both sides were unable to make the most of the six minutes of additional time. 

With the Kolkata Derby postponed due to the ongoing Durga Puja celebrations, the Mariners will face off against Jamshedpur next at the JRD Tata Sports Complex on 1st November as they resume their ISL campaign. 

The Mariners are one of the only three sides in ISL to remain unbeaten in their first three fixtures. Juan Ferrando’s side will later travel to Bangladesh to take on Basundhara Kings on 7th November in their next AFC Cup encounter.