Mohan Bagan Hold Bengaluru FC To A Draw, Win First Ever i-League Title
Bello Rasaq scored a late 86th-minute header that cancelled out a strike from English defender John Johnson to give Mohun Bagan its first I-League triumph against the defending champions Bengaluru FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on a Sunday evening.
It is the fourth national title for Bagan who won the last in 2002 when the tournament was named the National Football League and their first domestic championship in 13 years after a 1-1 draw against Bengaluru FC.
The title also ended their five-year trophy drought.
The first half completely belonged to Bengaluru, who made some splendid moves, thanks to their wonderful midfielders constantly feeding the strikers to have a go at the goal.
With only four minutes of regulation time remaining and when all seemed lost for Mohun Bagan, it was Rasaq who brilliantly headed the ball into the net to restore parity for Bagan and gifted his side a national league win after 13 years.
The Nigerian defender showed great tenacity and composure to leap above his Bengaluru markers and head in Sony Norde’s corner in the 86th minute at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium to send the 2,000-odd Bagan supporters and the millions back home into delirium and halt the Blues’ dreams of clinching a historic double.
Despite the Bengaluru fans dominating the capacity crowd, there was nothing their players could do to stop a rampant Mohun bagan in the second half.
The West Bengal chief minister Mamta Banerjee was jubilant on the win and tweeted her congratulations to the team.
After 11 years the Football I-League trophy comes back to #Bengal. Congratulations Mohun Bagan
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) May 31, 2015
Incidentally, it was Nigeria’s Abdul Saliu, who scored the winning goal for Bagan in the 2001-02 National Football League title, and this time too a Nigerian in Rasaq scored the much-needed goal.
Back home in Kolkata, wild scenes prevailed all around as fans of al age drenched in merry making. Amid incessant burst of fire crackers, hundreds of youngsters hit the streets on motorcycles chanting the names of their heroes and indulging in merrymaking.