Bengaluru: Mohun Bagan has captured their first NFL/I-League title in thirteen years following a 1-1 draw against Bengaluru FC in their 22nd round encounter which was lebelled as the final of the I-League held at Shree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru here on Sunday (31st May) evening.

With this draw, Mohun Bagan the second oldest club in India became the first club from West Bengal to win the I-League since it’s inception in 2007-08.

In front of a jam-packed Kanteerava, the visitors Mohun Bagan only required a point from the fixture to clinch the league, but it was the home team who took the lead first through John Johnson but a late strike from Bello Rasaq saw Mohun Bagan lifted their fourth overall NFL/I-League title.

Bengaluru FC went into the match with no options other than a win, and started the proccedings accordingly, as they created a number of scoring moves through Udanta Singh and Sean Rooney. On other hand Mohun Bagan made a steady start and mostly operated through counter attacks, but Mohun Bagan’s this tactic proved to be wrong soon when Bengaluru FC took the lead through John Johnson who headed the ball home from a croner it the 41st minute in a match where the stakes were higher than ever for either side.

Majumder Ajay's photo.

Thus the teams went back to the dressing room at half-time with the home team leading by a solitary goal.

In second-half Mohun Bagan came out with a fire lit beneath them and played much purposeful football than first-half but it looked like that the luck was not on their side as Sony Norde’s freekick came back off the post and Yusa Katsumi only managed find the side of the net with his shot from close range. However Bengaluru FC also wasted some very good scoring opportunities which they should have converted.

Mohun Bagan was going away from the title with every passing minute and just when it seemed that Bengaluru FC would walk away with their second consecutive I-League title, Nigerian defender Bello Rasaq produced a moment of brilliance when he headed through a well taken corner from Sony Norde to score the I-League winning goal for Mohun Bagan in 86th minute.

For the first time in history of NFL/I-League, AIFF gave awards to best players in each positions of the field. Mohun Bagan’s Debjit Majumder and Bello Rasaq was adjudged best goalkeeper and best defender respectively. Runners-up Bengaluru FC did get some consolation when their Eugeneson Lyngdoh was named the best midfielder. Meanwhile the top scorer of the league Ranti Martins (East Bengal) won the award for best striker and Telem Jackichand Singh adjudged the most valuable player of the league. Last but not list it was none othar than the I-League winning coach Sanjoy Sen who won the best coach’s award.

Images: Susmit Kar

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