Indian Arrows trumped former champions and hosts Mohun Bagan 3-1 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) in Kolkata to conclude their second season in the I-League league with six wins.
The All India Football Federation’s developmental side had earlier beaten defending champions Minverva Punjab FC, Shillong Lajong (twice), Gokulam Kerala, and former champions Aizawl FC.
Bagan coach Khalid Jamil and Arrow’s boss Floyd Pinto went for wholesale changes at the start of the game, making seven and six respectively, in a fixture between two sides assured of a mid-table finish.
The first half was a rather drab affair till the hosts took the lead in the 17th minute through Azharuddin Mallick who completed a move initiated by Sony Norde.
The Arrows hit back in the 28th minute when an Anwar Ali free-kick was fumbled by keeper Ricardo Cardozo and Abhijeet Sarkar struck off the rebound.
As the players came on for the second half, Mohun Bagan coach Khaleed Jamil brought on Cameroonian striker Dipanda Dicka and also replaced goal-scorer Mallick with Egyptian playmaker Omar Elhussieny.
However, Pinto’s team was not to be bogged down and after initial Bagan forays, it was the Arrows who went ahead in the 74th minute after a brilliantly-crafted move.
Substitute Neenthoi, who had come in barely two minutes earlier, played the pass from midfield finding Boris in space on the right. The right-wing back made a purposeful run into the box, looked up and found an onrushing Rahul KP with the cutback. Rahul made no mistake with a calm and composed finish.
The young guns secured the three points in injury time. In a seemingly harmless defensive position, Bagan custodian Cordozo came out of his area to clear the ball with his head but played it straight onto a waiting Rohit Danu, who slotted from distance into an empty goal.
Both Bagan and Arrows remain in sixth and seventh positions, respectively, with the gap between the two now narrowed to five points.
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