ISL 2023/24 – Sahal’s late winner fires Mohun Bagan into the finals

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In front of 62,000 spectators at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata, Mohun Bagan Super Giants pulled off a remarkable comeback against Odisha FC to win 3-2 on aggregate. Odisha’s night ended in heartbreak as they were unable to capitalize on their numerous chances, while the Mariners won 2-0 thanks to two clinical goals from them. Guiding his squad into the final match for a record fourth time, Antonio Lopez Habbas will be looking to make history with the Mariners by becoming the first club in ISL history to successfully defend the trophy.

ISL 2023/24 - Sahal's late winner fires Mohun Bagan into the finals mohunbagansgpC6Tq3BKpOxt5 edited
Jason Cummings replaced suspended Armando Sadiku

Odisha FC led the hosts Mohun Bagan by a narrow margin heading into the match after the Juggernauts won the first leg 2-1 at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar. That evening, Manvir Singh gave the Mariners an early lead, but Sergio Lobera’s team responded and won the match with two goals in the same half. That day, Carlos Delgado and Armando Saiku received red cards for their respective teams. The head coaches of both teams made two changes for tonight’s clash: for the Juggernauts, Diego Mauricio and Narender Gahlot took the place of Jerry Mawia and suspended Delgado, while for the Mariners, Deepak Tangri and Jason Cummings took the place of Abhishek and Sadiku, who was suspended.

In the second minute, Thapa had a chance to give the Mariners a dream start when Jahouh gave the ball away recklessly on the outside of his own box. However, Thapa’s effort was blocked, meaning he was unable to take full advantage of the opportunity. Shortly after, Diego Mauricio’s effort from a corner gave Odisha the chance to increase their lead, but it missed the target. Ten minutes into the game, Roy Krishna regained the ball when Subhasish Bose failed to clear it with his attempted header. Krishna raced forward and delivered the ball straight across the goal towards Isak at the far post but Anwar Ali was there to mitigate the threat and keep Mohun Bagan in the game.

A reckless tackle on Liston Colaco by Amey Ranawade resulted in the first yellow card of the match. In the 22nd minute, Jason Cummings gave the Mariners the lead. Liston Colaco surged ahead and passed the ball to Dimi Petratos, whose attempted shot was parried away by Amrinder right into Cummings’ legs, who scored with ease to tie the score on aggregate. A few minutes later, Krishna broke free with a great move forward, dribbling past a few opponents before playing the ball to Mauricio, who was right in front of the goal, but the Brazilian striker was unable to keep his shot on target. Around the thirty-minute mark, Mohun Bagan’s Deepak Tangri and Subhasish Bose were booked.

Mohun Bagan
Jason Cummings celebrates after scoring the opening goal

The 38th minute saw Thapa play a dangerous pass to Liston on the left wing, but Amrinder, who was racing forward, comfortably stopped his effort. When Petratos crossed the ball, Deepak Tangri had a header opportunity at the far post, but his effort missed the target. With only a few minutes remaining before halftime, Cummings played a wonderful through pass for Dimi Petratos, who did a fantastic job winning the ball but was prevented from shooting by outstanding defense, particularly by Mourtada Fall.

The first half ended with an addition of six minutes. Running forward from the right wing, Amey Ranawade tried a cross, but it was deflected to Krishna, who was waiting just outside the box, and his shot went straight into the palms of Vishal Kaith. Just before halftime, Krishna again produced a fantastic run past Subhasish to find Isak Ralte at the far post, giving Odisha another chance to score. Hector Yuste bravely blocked Isak’s effort at the far post off the line. The hosts led 1-0 at the end of the first half and the score was 2-2 on aggregate.

Approaching the second half, Habbas and Lobera made a few substitutions: Abhishek Suryavanshi took Deepak Tangri’s place for the Mariners, and Goddard and Jerry Mawia replaced Puitea and Mauricio for the Juggernauts. Liston darted forward from his own half in the 50th minute, stepped in, and fired a shot that was well off target. Just a few seconds later, Isak brilliantly delivered a ball toward Jerry Mawia, giving Odisha a chance to score, but Kaith stopped the effort bravely. Shortly after, Manvir advanced and managed to go past a few defenders, but committed an error in his final decision as he struck the ball right into Amrinder’s hands, instead of passing to Cummings who was unchallenged at the far post.

Mariners
Manvir Singh and Mourtada Fall in action

Mohun Bagan had a fantastic chance to take the lead on aggregate in the 58th minute when Manvir Singh provided a beautiful cross to Thapa at the near post, whose header went across Amrinder’s legs and towards the far post was inches away. At the hour mark, Jahouh gave away the ball cheaply to Thapa, Mourtada Fall fouled him at the edge of the box to stop the attack and ended up getting booked. Moments later, Lenny Rodrigues took Princeton’s position for Odisha FC.

In the 70th minute, Roy Krishna again made a terrific run forward and delivered a great pass across the goal towards Isak Ralte at the far post, giving Odisha their best chance of the match. However, Manvir made a crucial interception to keep the aggregate score level. In an attempt to get the winner, Habbas brought on Sahal Abdul Samad for Anirudh Thapa. In the 75th minute, Hector Yuste headed from near-post towards goal from a Petratos corner, but Amrinder made an incredible save. Shortly after, Amey delivered a smart cross into the 6-yard box, but Abhishek made an outstanding double-block to prevent Jahouh and Goddard from scoring.

Habbas made more adjustments when he swapped Anwar Ali and Liston Colaco for Kiyan Nassir and Dippendu Biswas. Immediately after, Dippendu was called upon to make an important interception to keep Roy Krishna from scoring at the far post. Once more, it was Amey Ranawade who supplied the cross across the goal after a sneaky run forward. With both sides battling it out to see who would win, the game was end-to-end and highly entertaining to watch for the fans. At the end of the second half, seven additional minutes were added for both teams to find a winner.

Mohun Bagan
Sahal Abdul Samad and Petratos celebrate after the winner

Sahal scored his biggest goal in the green and maroon colors three minutes into stoppage time, propelling the Mariners to the finals. Amrinder blocked Sahal’s first effort after Manvir made a great run down the left wing and delivered the ball across the six-yard box. However, the rebound ricocheted off Sahal and ended up in the back of the net. Habbas bought on Brendan Hamill to manage the final few minutes, while Lobera bough on Vignesh who nearly gave Odisha the equalizing goal in the seventh minute of stoppage time with a volley from outside the penalty box, but his shot missed the target. Mohun Bagan emerged victorious, winning 2-0 in the match and 3-2 on aggregate.

Despite the loss, Sergio Lobera would be happy with his team’s performance this season. There have been many good things about the Juggernauts this season, including their run to the Super Cup finals, their ISL semi-final qualification, and their undefeated home record. With this victory, the Mariners have advanced to the final, where they will play either FC Goa or Mumbai City FC. In the past four seasons, the Mariners have now advanced to the finals three times: once as ATK Mohun Bagan and twice as Mohun Bagan Super Giants. On Saturday, May 4th, they will be defending their title at Salt Lake Stadium.


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Shyam Sundar
Shyam Sundar
A youthful, diehard supporter of the Indian Football Team and Chennaiyin FC. Before the Lockdown, I didn't often watch Indian football! I occasionally kept up with the Blue Tigers, but not consistently. But ever since the lockdown, I've become really interested in Indian football. I may not have a background in journalism, but Indian football is something I am really passionate about.

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