Chirag shock Mahindra with second half spurt

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Chirag United of Kolkata outclassed Durand Cup champions Mahindra United 3-1 in the ONGC I-League football tie at the Cooperage ground on Saturday.

Updated: October 04, 2008 13:34 IST
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Putting up a superlative display in the second half, Chirag United of Kolkata outclassed Durand Cup champions Mahindra United 3-1 in the ONGC I-League football tie at the Cooperage ground on Saturday.

Down by an early opening half goal scored with a header by Sushil Kumar Singh, Chirag United came back storming into the match in the latter half by pumping in two snap goals within the first eight minutes of play to lead 2-1 in the 53rd minute against the 2005-06 League winners from Mumbai.

Chirag, a promoted team, equalised through their foreign import Subair Muritala Ali within the first minute after crossing over and then went ahead seven minutes later through their ebulliant striker Gauranga Dutta.

The Kolkata team then held their rivals at bay with some outstanding midfield play in which Snehasish Chakraborty and substitute Hardeep Singh caught the eye before sealing the local giants' fate with a superb strike with three minutes left through Hardeep.

Chirag, who lost their lung-opener against Kolkata's glamour outfit East Bengal 1-3, opened their points tally while keeping Mahindra without a point to their credit by handing out to the latter their second straight defeat in the league.

The Mumbai giants had lost 1-2 to Churchill Brothers of Goa in their opening I-League clash.

After playing second fiddle for most part of the opening stanza, Chirag totally dominated the latter half with their speedy thrusts from the flanks and deservedly emerged victors.

It was Mahindra who went ahead in the 13th minute when Sushil Kumar Singh nodded home from close range a measured cross from the right flank sent in by Steven Dias.

Had Mahindra's Nigerian striker Chidi Edeh not fluffed a goalmouth cross from Sukhbir Singh two minutes later, things could have panned out differently for the home team.

The introduction of Hardeep for an ineffective R Dhanarajan in midfield in the 32nd minute galvanised the visiting team's forwardline.

The change of ends saw a totally different picture with Chirag running the local team ragged and it was a quicksilver move on the right flank that caught Mahindra defence napping in the opening minute after resumption of play.

Gaurang Dutta outpaced the defensive line to pass the ball to Ali who simply lofted the ball over an advancing Mahindra custodian Subashish Chowdhury to bring Chirag level with the local team.

It was Dutta's speed and opportunism that got Chirag their second goal in the 53rd minute. He came charging in to connect with a sliding motion a goalmouth centre from the left by Chakraborty, hit the underside of the bar and immediately rose to head it in.

After losing a good chance to draw level when Dias's free-kick hit the post ten minutes later, Mahindra became desperate for a goal and then fell further behind.

Ali bamboozled the defence on the left side of the box and sent in a cross which was shot home with an angular shot by Hardeep, the ball going in off the post.

Mahindra coach Derrick Pereira blamed his midfield for the stunning reverse against Chirag United.

"Our midfield did not play well. We lost the match because we left lot of gaps in the midfield. We need to combine as a team", Pereira said after the match.

He, however, sounded optimistic about his team's chances in the I-League after two losses in successive matches.

"We have to play well in the remaining matches", he said.

Victorious Chirag coach Subroto Bhattacharya hailed his team's fighting spirit against a top team like Mahindra.

"I'm very happy to win the match. We really fought hard to win it," he said.

He discounted the notion that his team was overwhelmingly dependent on their foreign striker Subair Muritala Ali.

"Muritala played an important role, but others also did their best," he said, adding the team needed to improve its defence ahead of their next game against Churchill Brothers.

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