Ludhiana (Punjab) [India], Apr. 16 : Mohun Bagan managed to snatch away a 1-0 away victory against Minerva Punjab courtesy Sony Norde (84') in what was a crucial win in their quest to recapture the I-League crown on Saturday here.
Sanjoy Sen knew nothing less than a win would matter with Aizawl having notched up a win against Churchill Brothers earlier in the day.
Jeje Lalpekhlua replaced Balwant Singh alongside Darryl Duffy while youngster Pintu Mahato replaced Azharuddin Mallick on the right.
Minerva meanwhile made six changes from their disappointing defeat against Chennai City. Arshdeep, Arashpreet, Simranjeet, Germanpreet, Ngaihte and Pandit all came into the side. Mohun Bagan had a free kick in the 20th minute and Eduardo Fereira forced goalkeeper Arshdeep into a save off his header.
Four minutes later, Pintu Mahato ran onto a delightful through pass from Sehnaj Singh but Arashpreet was there to block his pass into the box towards Duffy.
In the 36th minute, Kareem Nurain almost scored an own goal after his block off Jeje forced Arshdeep into parrying it off the crossbar.
Five minutes into the second half, Pritam Kotal found himself in space outside the box but his shot was just over.
The game saw a prolonged break of about 15 minutes following malfunctioning flood lights. It seemed the break broke Bagan's momentum as Simranjeet Singh was found on the edge of the box and his placed shot had beaten Debjit but unfortunately struck the post and went out.
In the 62nd minute, Sony Norde dribbled past a couple of players but combined work by the goalkeeper and Kareem saw it saved for a corner.
Meanwhile, Duffy could not find the target as a couple of shots from outside the box fizzed out wide. In the 72nd minute, Katsumi Yusa found plenty of space down the right and his cross was tipped out by the goalkeeper before Moinuddin made a fantastic goal line clearance.
Ten minutes before time, Duffy was left unmarked in the box but he powered his header wide off a Norde corner.
However merely four minutes later, Sony Norde turned saviour for Mohun Bagan when he ran past the advance defensive line and slotted the ball expertly past an onrushing Arshdeep to score Bagan's opening goal.
Jeje Lalpekhlua had an opportunity to add the icing on the cake in added time when a shot from outside the box was expertly punched out by Arshdeep who had a brilliant game.
The win took Mohun Bagan to the top of the table, tied on points with Aizawl but ahead on the head to head record.