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Bagan storms into last four

Amitabha Das Sharma

CUTTACK: Mohun Bagan trounced a strong Salgaocar SC 6-1 in the concluding quarterfinal Group ‘D' league match of the 32nd Federation Cup on Sunday.

A motley bunch of spectators here at the Barabati Stadium relished the glut of goals as the Kolkata giant put together a brilliant display of attacking football.

Mohun Bagan's strike-duo Brazilian Jose Rameirez Barreto and Nigerian Subair Muritala Ali shared the six goals to figure in a unique partnership, squaring up a pair of hat-tricks.

Substitute Ryuiji Sueoka scored late in the second half to prevent a complete rout. The result helped Bagan tally seven points to be the group topper and secured the remaining semifinal berth. Bagan's success also secured an interesting pair-up reliving the traditional contest between the giants of Bengal and Goa in the semifinals.

In the semifinals, holder East Bengal will take on Goa's Churchill Brothers on Wednesday while Mohun Bagan meets I-League champion Dempo SC in the second on Thursday.

Needing a win to stay in the tournament, Mohun Bagan pressed for attack right from the start. Mobilising attacks from the flanks, Mohun Bagan found the break in the 12th minute off a set-piece situation. The experienced Barreto got himself in the right position to avail an assist from Muritala off a corner from captain Ishfaq Ahmed to score (1-0).

Fine skills

As if to quell talks about his diminishing performance, the Brazilian charged up a solo run and finished his effort with an angular right-footer that gave Salgaocar custodian Karanjit Singh no chance to react.

Barreto's 22nd minute goal seemed to inspire Muritala, who produced a similar effort two minutes later. The Nigerian showed fine skills in dribbling through a crowded Salgaocar defence and unleashed a swerving left-footer that surprised Karanjit.

This helped Mohun Bagan to a 3-0 lead by the 24th minute virtually signalling the end of Salgaocar's hopes.

The Bagan strikers were in no mood to stop as Barreto completed his hat-trick in the 35th minute, banging home another provision from Ishfaq, who was harassing the Salgaocar defence with his pace on the left wing.

The sequence of scoring was carried forward by Muritala, who nodded home a Kingshuk Debnath corner to make it 5-0 by the 41st minute and helped Mohun Bagan realise one of its biggest first-half leads in the recent past.

The second half halted the marauding run of Mohun Bagan. But after Sueoka had pulled one back for Salgaocar in the 83rd minute (5-1), Muritala Ali sought himself to revert the compliment in the 90th minute completing his hat-trick.

Mumbai FC held

Shillong Lajong FC held Mumbai FC to a goalless draw in the inconsequential match that ended the quarterfinal group D league fixtures on Sunday. Both Lajong and Mumbai FC tallied two points each, gained from a couple of draws and a loss. There will be couple of days break in the tournament, which will see the action resuming with the semifinals on Wednesday.

The results: Group D: Mohun Bagan 6 (Jose Barreto 12th, 22nd, 35th; Muritala Ali 24th , 41st, 90th) bt Salgaocar SC 1 (Ryuiji Sueoka 83rd); Lajong FC 0 drew with Mumbai FC 0 .

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