Mohun Bagan Super Giant earns second consecutive win against 9-men Bengaluru
The 2023-24 Indian Super League season moved into Matchday 2 with the biggest fixture of the week as last season’s finalists Bengaluru visited the champions Mohun Bagan Super Giant and the defending champions went on to take the pole position in the league table after the 1-0 win against the 9-men away team.
Defending champions Mohun Bagan SG made three changes to a winning combination as Anirudh Thapa, Manvir Singh, and Hugo Boumous replaced the benched trio of Glan Martins, Asish Rai, and Brendan Hamill.
On the other hand, the visiting Blues also made three changes as Parag Shrivas, Javi Hernandez, and Curtis Main replaced Sivasakthi Narayana, Keziah Veendorp, and Ryan Williams.
The Mariners wore Green and Maroon while Bengaluru donned white jerseys and red shorts as the away side kicked off the match. In the sixth minute, Roshan Naorem had the first clear shot of the match as he broke through from a dangerous position but his shot went flying away over the goal.
In the 12th minute, Roshan’s corner was met by Rohit Kumar but the effort from the central midfielder was cleared off the line by Anirudh Thapa. On the counter-attack, Liston Colaco and Hugo Boumous played several one-twos before the former Hyderabad forward let fly but the ball swerved a bit and went wide of the target.
As the clock went past the 20-minute mark, Hugo Boumous’ clever pass allowed Manvir Singh to cut in from the right channel and tee up Jason Cummings but the striker’s effort was well blocked by Aleksandar Jovanovic who is forming a solid central defensive partnership with former Mariner Slavko Damjanovic.
The defending champions have been in hot form since lifting the 2022-23 ISL trophy and were clearly leading in possession stats as they had 62% of the ball up till the 28th minute while the Blues had 38% of the ball.
At the half-hour mark, Sahal Abul Samad drew a foul from Suresh Wangjam and Dimitri Petratos took the resulting free-kick which was brought down by Sahal teeing up Cummings but the former Nottingham Forest striker missed the target yet again bringing about a much-needed drinks break on a hot evening.
The referee finally showed the first yellow card of a very disciplined evening as Rohit picked up a booking for a nasty tackle on Manvir.
Parag launched a hopeful long ball towards target man Curtis Main in the 42nd minute but the Englishman headed the ball wide under the pressure of Anwar Ali. On the other end of the pitch, Colaco skipped past a couple of defenders and launched another wayward shot which saw the Blues close out the first half as a scoreless affair.
MBSG started the second half on the front foot with three consecutive corners as Petratos was recycling the ball again and again from the flag but the Mariners once again failed to find an opening.
Cummings and Petratos combined well after some half-time team talk from Juan Ferrando as the latter went down in the penalty box but the referee waved play on. An eventful first five minutes of the second half came to an end as Rohit’s shot was parried away by Vishal Kaith to Namgyal Bhutia but the 24-year old made a mess of the rebound.
Anwar Ali was the next man to see a yellow card as he thwarted Roshan who was sprinting for a long distance and was brought down by his compatriot. The set-piece was wasted by Bhutia as the tall defenders were kept waiting in the penalty box with the ball flying over them.
The hot weather was getting the better of the players’ temperament as Suresh was the next Bengaluru central midfielder to be booked by the referee for a mistimed tackle on Manvir.
In the 68th minute, Boumous finally opened the scoring for the Greens and Maroons as Jovanovic’s failed clearance fell to Cummings who found the unmarked French-Moroccan midfielder and the former Goa and Mumbai City star once again brought the difference with his first goal of the season.
Seeking an immediate response, Main found Bhutia on the edge of the penalty box but the shot was safely collected by Kaith.
The Mariners brought on Armando Sadiku for the misfiring Cummings with the pair of Brendan Hamill and Glan Martins also coming on for Boumous and Anwar in a triple change with an eye on the Monday night fixture in the AFC Cup.
Simon Grayson also responded with his first set of changes of the night as Rohit, Javi Herandez, and Jessel Carneiro were taken off in favor of Sivasakthi, Williams, and Harsh Patre.
Wangjam collected his second yellow card of the evening from referee Harish Kundu for clipping Petratos’ heels as the Blues went a man down and a goal down with 15 minutes remaining on the clock along with some injury time.
In a brief interval of time, both sides again made one change each as Bhutia made way for the 18-year old Monirul Molla while Juan Ferrando introduced Asish Rai for Liston to add some fresh legs to his side. A couple of minutes later, Kiyan Nassiri came on for Sahal as the Mariners’ last substitution of the evening.
In the 85th minute, Sadiku won the hearts of the fans with a 50-yard run before doing a couple of stepovers to get a clear angle on the goal but the forward’s shot was wide of Gurpreet’s goal.
As the additional time kicked off, Roshan became the second Blues player to be shown a red card on Wednesday as the youngster was the last man and brought down Petratos in front of the goal bringing his team down to 9 players.
Attacking with only eight outfield players, the Blues earned a corner but the Mariners’ numerical advantage was too much to deal with inside the penalty box as MBSG started a counter-attacking move where Petratos shot over the goal failing to earn a two-goal cushion for his side. Another attacking move led to Petratos going close to getting a goal but fired in the side-netting.
Mohun Bagan SG earned their second consecutive of the league season and is now set to play against Maziya in their second AFC Cup fixture on Monday evening before facing Chennaiyin in the Saturday late evening fixture.
Unlike the Mariners, Bengaluru is down in the barrel having failed in the task to win any of their first two league matches and will now kick off Matchday 3 with a clash against East Bengal next Wednesday.