Churchill falter in front of Dicka’s brace for Mohun Bagan
Mohun Bagan rode high on Dipanda Dicka’s brace to edge Churchill Brothers 2-1 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday in the third pre-quarter final of the Hero Super Cup. Though Churchill had taken the initial lead through Willis Deon Plaza’s strike, Bagan came back strongly to successfully convert a penalty followed by the second-half winner to book a quarter-final berth.
The match began on even grounds with Churchill enjoying the majority of the possession. Both sides tried to look for loopholes in the opponent’s defence but failed to threaten enough. Dicka had a wonderful opportunity to get the opener in the 28th minute, but failed to capitalise on Faiaz’s low cross from the right.
Just two minutes later, Churchill drew first blood through Plaza. The Trinidadian collected Nicholas Fernandes’ pass, went past Kingsley Obumneme and lodged the ball at the back of the net to give his team the lead. Bagan tried to find their footing back in the game through Dicka and Akram Moghrabi’s partnership, but Churchill held their ground.
However, in injury time, Bagan was awarded a penalty, when Faiaz was brought down inside the box by Nicholas. Dicka stepped up to take it and even though Churchill’s custodian Ricardo Cardozo managed to keep it out initially, he couldn’t stop the rebound. With this last piece of the action, the teams entered the break tied at 1-1.
Bagan started the second half with more attacking fervour, building chance after chance. Moghrabi had a brilliant opportunity two minutes into the half, when Dicka’s through ball found him with only the keeper to beat, but he astonishingly hit it wide. Minutes later, he squandered another easy chance when he failed to tap Dicka’s header into the net.
They, however, continued to throng Churchill’s box from time to time in search of the lead, until Dicka answered their call in the 70th minute. Cameron Watson’s long ball was headed down by Moghrabi towards Dicka, who in turn made no mistake in slotting the ball home. Yuta Kinowaki also had a chance minutes later, but his curling effort was kept at bay by a vigilant Cardozo.
As Bagan went defensive in the final stages, Churchill upped their ante in search of the equaliser. Plaza led their attack and came extremely close to scoring his second on three different occasions, but Bagan held their line to prevent any further breach. Thus, after 90 minutes of intense play, the Kolkata giants managed to secure their berth in the quarter-finals.