Bhubaneswar (Odisha), Dec 2 (IANS): Two late goals in the second half helped defending champions Mohun Bagan Super Giant defeat Hyderabad FC 2-0 in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 at the Kalinga Stadium here on Saturday night.
The Mariners, who suffered a 5-2 defeat against Odisha FC at home in the AFC Cup earlier this week, came up with a late surge to maintain their hopes at the domestic front.
Whilst continental challenges are always complicated, the nature of this loss against an Indian counterpart must have surely come as an eye-opener for Juan Ferrando and his men.
The rustiness possibly as a result of that outcome was prevalent in the initial stages of this match, as Hyderabad FC found successive breakthroughs and openings in the Mohun Bagan Super Giant backline.
Mohammed Yasir and Nikhil Poojary, two players who have thrived in their stint with Hyderabad FC, assumed critical roles in spearheading that brief phase of dominance for them.
Joe Knowles nearly broke the deadlock in the 35th minute, but that was sandwiched between two impressive efforts by Sahal Abdul Samad and Hugo Boumous.
Sahal set up a through ball for Jason Cummings, off which Kiyan Nassiri had a chance to net on the rebound. However, the youngster squandered that opportunity. Regardless, he was a livewire on the field tonight, getting into goal-scoring positions and earning fouls from dangerous areas near the Hyderabad FC defence.
The sheer, unquestionable quality brimming through the Mohun Bagan Super Giant ranks began coming to the fore as the game progressed, with former Hyderabad FC star Asish Rai commencing several attacking moves.
From short, low crosses into the box to widespread long deliveries, Rai seemed eager to make an impact against the team that propelled him to footballing stardom.
The Mariners and their persistent efforts bore fruit in the end, first with Sahal unleashing another one of his razor-sharp through balls to assist Brendan Hamill’s debut goal for his club and then with Rai finally having his moment of reckoning against Hyderabad FC.
Hamill opened the scoring in the 85th minute, but Rai locked in the win for the Mariners with a powerful shot into the bottom left corner of the net in the 96th minute to make it five wins in as many games for the Mohun Bagan Super Giant in ISL 2023-24.
Hyderabad FC will next play NorthEast United FC in Guwahati on December 10, whereas Mohun Bagan Super Giant will square off against Odisha FC at the Salt Lake Stadium on December 6.