MOHUN Bagan rode on Okolie Odafa’s late strike to pip Mumbai FC 3-2 and came out of the relegation zone in the I-League,in Kalyani near Kolkata on Wednesday. After missing a penalty in the first half,the Nigerian forward bounced back in style striking twice (52nd and 90+6th),including the injury-time winner.
Earlier,Australian recruit Tolgay Ozbey had given them a 35th minute lead at the Kalyani Stadium. Mumbai found their goals through Darren Caldeira (56th) and John Coutinho (88th) in the rescheduled round-14 fixture. It was Mohun Bagan’s hattrick of wins in the I-League as they climbed to 12th place,on goal difference,to come out of the drop zone. Air India and United Sikkim FC are the last two teams on the table fighting relegation. Ozbey gave the lead with a delectable left-footer after receiving a through ball from Snehasish Chakraborty on the run. Bagan could well have doubled the lead in the first half itself had their most prolific scorer,Odafa,not missed a penalty in the 40th minute.
Bagan earned the spot kick after Mumbai FC medio Ashutosh Mehta fouled Tolgay inside the box. Odafa’s spot kick was nicely judged by Sawant who fisted the ball over. Bagan doubled the lead in the 52nd-minute when Odafa shook off his earlier tentativeness and nodded home a measured chip from Ozbey.
But Mohun Bagan’s fragile defence leaked one when Mumbai FC’s seasoned striker Yusif Yakubu broke free of an off-side trap and released Caldeira to score. A pumped up Mumbai FC kept attacking and found the equaliser two minutes from time as Coutinho found the target for the visitors. With a draw looking certain,Odafa’s corner deep into the injury time took a deflection off a rival defender to enter the goal for Mohun Bagan’s third win in as many matches.