Kolkata:Ten-men Mohun Bagan rode on a Bhaichung Bhutia strike to pip Mohammedan Sporting 1-0 in a National Football League exchange on Friday.
The all-important goal came in the 66th minute, with Ayan Choudhury - having just replaced Lal Kamal Bhowmick - playing a one-two with Bhutia and then releasing the ball for the talismanic striker, who made no mistake in placing the ball into the net.
Bagan now have 19 points from 14 games. Sporting, who lost their previous game 1-3 to Sporting
Clube-de-Goa, now seem headed for relegation into the second division with only 11 points in their kitty from 15 outings.
The two teams dished out an insipid fare for the greater part of the Salt Lake stadium tie though the proceedings livened up somewhat in the later stages.
Bagan suffered a big jolt in the 40th minute when their goalkeeper Shilton Paul was redcarded for handling the ball outside the penalty box.
Seeing an onrushing Basudeb Mondal, Paul came out of his area but miscalculated and collected the ball outside the box, prompting the referee to give him marching orders.
Fabio was taken off and Sangram Mukherjee came in as the new goalkeeper.
The match had to be temporarily stopped after the stadium plunged into semi-darkness about five minutes into the second half as half of the floodlights went out.
The lights were restored fully after 19 minutes and thematch resumed.