KOLKATA: Pedro Manzi scored a brace as 10-man Mohammedan Sporting Club beat Real Kashmir 2-0 in their last Phase 1 fixture of the Hero I-League on Sunday at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan.
After a barren first-half which saw skipper Eze Kingsley getting a straight red card, Manzi scored twice in quick succession to seal the victory for the Black Panthers. The result took Mohammedan to 16 points from 10 matches and have also confirmed their place in the top six.
Mohammedan started the game at a high tempo, trying to put Real Kashmir on the back foot from the beginning. Manzi was enjoying himself and seemed refreshed creating constant danger to the Real Kashmir defence. Jamal Bhuyan was also playing well. The Bangladesh skipper controlled the game for his side with a lot of the action directed through him.
The Black Panthers created a number of great goalscoring opportunities, the best of which fell for Manzi and Vanlalbiaa Chhangte. Real Kashmir custodian Mithun Samanta was kept busy and had to make numerous saves.
Real Kashmir weren’t without their own chances on the break, with Lukman Adefemi and Mason Robertson among those giving Mohammedan goalkeeper Subham Roy something to keep him occupied.
Mohammedan found themselves on the back-foot in the 34th minute when Kingsley got a straight red card after he brought down Lukman outside the area.
However, Real Kashmir failed to make their numerical advantage count in their favour as the first-half continued in a familiar fashion with Mohammedan controlling possession and restricting Real Kashmir to counter-attacks.
Mohammedan established a comfortable rhythm whenever they found themselves in possession making it tough for their opponents to impose their game. It was a positive and spirited performance of Mohammedan, which fully deserved at least one goal. Half-time, however, arrived with the score remaining goalless.
Mohammedan continued to be the better side in the second-half, controlling the pace of the match with accurate passing at the back and probing attacks at the other end. Albeit displaying plenty of technical ability with eye-catching combination plays the Mohammedan attackers were guilty of straying offside on several occasions.
Real Kashmir looked to catch Mohammedan on the counter-attack, but poor finishing proved to be their downfall as they wasted a number of good opportunities to break the deadlock. The Snow Leopards had their moment but they fumbled when mattered most. Danish Farooq could not control his shot from inside the box and then Robertson’s bid to find man in the Mohammedan box was foiled by an alert Sujit Sadhu.
The back and forth continued with Mohammedan slowly gaining more possession, as they really began to pile on the pressure until eventually they got the break they were looking for. The goal was certainly worth waiting for when it finally arrived in the 74th minute, Manzi received the ball and saw the Mithun off his line. The Spaniard then stunned everybody in the stadium with a strike from his own half.
With Mohammedan taking the lead, Real Kashmir had to throw caution to the wind as they launched a wave of attacks on the Mohammedan defence. However, by pushing forward Real Kashmir have left themselves exposed and vulnerable at the back and Mohammedan took full advantage on the counter as Chhangte found Manzi with an excellent cross, and Manzi scored with a glancing header in the 79th minute.
Real Kashmir now had to produce something truly special to turn things around and never looked like doing so as Subham was left largely untested. Lukman went closest to pulling a goal back when he met Sena Ralte’s freekick. However, the Nigerian’s powerful header crashed against the crossbar as Mohammedan held on for a memorable win.