Mohammedan Sporting finished on top of Group A in the ongoing Durand Cup 2022, courtesy a 1-1 draw with Bengaluru FC at the Salt Lake stadium in Kolkata on Friday. Pritam Singh got an early lead for Mohammedan in the first half, which was neutralised by Siva Sakthi in added time of the second. (More Football News)
Both the teams had already qualified for the knockout stages and the result meant that Mohammedan would face the Kerala Blasters in their quarterfinals while Bengaluru will be up against Odisha FC. The teams were up for it as they began positively, both in attack and in defense.
The Blues got the first real chance to score in the 12th minute of the game, when a Jovanovic header on the rebound, after Javi's free-kick was punched out by Zothanmawia, just missed its mark to graze the roof of the net.
A minute later, Mohammedan got the opener. It was the culmination of a wonderful team-move down the left flank, from the space left open by a constantly overlapping Prabir Das. The first booking of the game came in the 27th minute when Zuidika went into the books for a rough tackle. It was going to be a first of many to come.
Bengaluru coach Grayson brought on Leon Augustine at the break in place of Javi. That brought the pace in attack and on the left wing. Prabir, in the 47th minute, caught hold of a loose ball with a fabulous right-footer from about 30 yards out and Mawia was forced to bring up another good save to deny him.
Grayson kept getting on the younger and fresher legs bringing in Parag and Rohit at the hour mark in place of Sandesh Jhingan and Jayesh Rane. In the 69th minute, Sunil Chhetri got a great chance to equalise but Zothanmawia yet again, brought off a stellar save to deny the talisman.
The game then changed dramatically when Abhishek Halder was sent off in the 72nd minute for a second booking. Mohammedan were down to 10-men and Bengaluru began the charge.
Siva Sakthi, who also made his way into the game in the second half, first got a lay off from Jovanovic close to goal but behind a crowd of bodies. His two-minded tap hit the side-netting.
But he got his goal in the end in the first minute of added time. Yet another Grayson sub Namgiyal Bhutia had been sending in wonderful crosses from the right flank since coming on. This time he floated in a corner from that flank and the tall Jovanovic headed in down onto the edge of the box from the far post.