Millennium Post

Bagan draw away from semis; Gokulam, Goa secure easy wins

Kolkata: Former champions Mohun Bagan inched closer to securing a semi-final berth with a second successive win, while Gokulam Kerala and FC Goa won their respective group openers in the 129th Durand Cup, here on Thursday.

Smarting from a 0-3 reversal against Peerless in theCalcutta Football League at their same home venue three days ago, the Mariners had no trouble against ATK, as Joseba Beitia set up one for Fran Morante in a 34th minute corner kick and struck another in the 53rd minute to earn a 2-1 win.

Ashish Pradhan struck the solitary goal for ATK from a Boris Singh pass in the 78th minute but that was not enough as Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Sankar Roy executed a couple of brilliant saves under the bar to deny the former Indian Super League champions a draw.

Mohun Bagan, who had beaten Mohammedan Sporting 2-0 in the Durand Cup opener on August 2, lead the Group B table with six points from two matches, and a draw against Indian Navy on August 17 would be enough to seal a last-four berth.

The Kolkata ISL franchise, who had drawn Indian Navy 1-1 in their first match,have one point from two matches to suffer an early exit with one match to go, versus Mohammedan Sporting, on August 16.

Marcus Joseph struck a hat-trick as Gokulam Kerala FC began their campaign on a resounding note with a 4-0 thrashing of Chennaiyin FC in the Group D opening fixture at the Sailen Manna Stadium in Howrah.

The Trinidad and Tobago striker gave them a 39th minute lead and the Kerala outfit had a quiet start only to pump in three more goals in an action-packed 10 minutes after the changeover.

It all began with Joseph converting a penalty in the 66th minute before Henry Kisekka made it 3-0 in a space of two minutes.

Joseph completed his hat-trick in the 75th minute as another two-time former ISL champions suffered a defeat.

The third ISL outfit in action, FC Goa, who were playing with their developmental side, scored through Liston Colaco's 26th minute strike, which proved decisive against Army Green in the Group C fixture at Kalyani Stadium.

Liston first missed a chance to score from the penalty as the ball bounced back to him from Lalawmpuia and then an Army defender slotted it home to give the Gaurs an early lead. Real Kashmir and FC Goa now both have three points each as it's a two-head race for the semi-final in Group C.

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