Kalyani: Deportivo Saprissa from Costa Rica beat local giants Mohun Bagan 1-0 in a group B quarter final league match of 117th IFA Shield Football tournament at Kalyani Municipal stadium in Kalyani on Sunday.
The all-important goal was beautifully netted by 2002 World Cupper Walter Centeno in the 77rd minute.
Centeno along with another former World Cupper Steven Bryce and another Costa Rican international Alonso Solis joined Saprissa today which enabled the visitors to overcome the strong challenge from the local favourites.
Mohun Bagan, who had already assured their berth in the last four stages winning their earlier matches against United Sikkim and Pune FC are now leading the table with six points from three matches.
They are followed by Deportivo Saprissa and Pune FC, both of who have earned four points after playing three and two matches respectively. The second qualifier from this group and the group champion would be decided after Saprissa play their match against United Sikkim on March 12.
Saprissa were engaged in a goalless draw with Pune FC and today the put up a vastly improved performance from their lacklustre display in their opening match.
The addition of three key players has definitely sharpened their attack as well as added strength to their defence to a great extent. They were also successful in bottling up Bagan's main striker Odafa Okolie with tight marking.
Having assured their place in the last four stage Bagan began confidently and forced their first chance in the 8th minute but striker Tolgay failed to cash in on the chance which was well tackled by Saprissa keeper in time.
They got another chance eight minutes later but Odafa's stingy shot from a free-kick was saved by Costa Rican custodian Douglas.
Saprissa who took some time to settle down soon found their rhythm and came near scoring in the 23rd minute. But Walter Centeno's attempt went out after deflection from a defender.
The beginning of second half saw green and maroon getting another chance to forge head by Tolgay again shot over from close while on the run.
Both the teams made several moves to take lead all of which proved abortive except in the 77th minute when Saprissa were awarded a free kick near the top of the box. Costa Rican World Cupper Walter Centeno true to his reputation unleashed a fine swerving kick which beat the human wall and the Bagan custodian Arindam Bhattacharjee to ensure their victory (1-0).
Walter was later adjudged "man of the match". Inspired with the lead Suprissa came near increasing their lead a couple of minutes later which was smartly saved by Bagan keeper.
Stung by the reverse the home side went all out and forced some chances centering around their striker Odafa who either was well tackled by rival defenders or his attempts were saved by the rival keepers - first by Douglas and then by substitute Jiabsa, who replaced the former.
In another quarter final league match played at Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata, striker James Moga scored a hattrick as Pune FC drubbed United Sikkim 6-1 to keep alive their semi-final hopes alive.
After Costa Rican side Deportivo Saprissa defeated Mohun Bagan in another group B match at Kalyani today, both Pune FC and Deportivo Saprissa are at the second spot in the group league table with 4 points each.
While Pune team have played all their league matches, the Costa Rican side will play their last match against United Sikkim on March 12 which will finally decide the second team to move to the last four stage from this group.
Mohun Bagan are assured of a semi final berth having earned six points from two matches.
There was no doubt about Pune team’s all round superiority all through the match.
The goal glut for Pune side began as early as in 8th minute through Boima Karpeh which was neutralized in the 23rd minute when United Sikkim were awarded a penalty in the 23rd minute as Pune keeper Abhra Mondal brought down Sikkim striker Pablo inside the box. Pablo converted the spot kick to draw level for United Sikkim.
But thereafter it was an one way affair for the Pune team as they pumped in five more goals in regular succession. While Moga regained the lead for Pune in the 26th minute, Ralte made it 3-1 three minutes after the breather.
After man of the match Moga struck twice more in 65th and 75th minute to earn his hattrick, Medio Subhas Singh completed the tally for the winners three minutes before the long whistle ( 6-1).