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    AFC Cup: Mohun Bagan go down to Al-Wehdat

    New Delhi: Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan lost their second successive match in the AFC Cup as they went down 2-1 to Jordanian side Al-Wehdat in Group D at the Howrah Municipal Corporation Stadium on Tuesday.

    Mohun Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa fielded a much depleted side with central midfielder Marcos starting from the bench and Bhaichung Bhutia playing as the lone striker upfront.

    But it was the home side that started brightly and deservingly took the lead as early as the 13th minute when Rakesh Masih drilled in a low shot with his right foot from outside the Al-Wehdat penalty box that screamed past a flying Malek Samih between the sticks.

    But Bagan's lead didn't last long as only four minutes later the visitors restored parity when Issa Al Sapah's cross from the right as headed in from point blank range by Mahmoud Shelbaieh.

    Bencherifa's men didn't buckle down though, and sustained their tempo and rhythm. Minutes later Indian international striker Bhaichung Bhutia had a chance when Rahul Kumar curved in a measured cross from the right but he couldn't direct his bicycle kick properly.

    The Indian skipper got another chance just minutes later but this time his shot didn't have the venom or the accuracy and went wide off the mark.

    Mohun Bagan played a more passing game and took full advantage of the home support. They pressed upon the Jordanian side and looked very much enthusiastic and were full of energy.

    Bhutia might have been playing as a lone striker upfront but he was not lonely and desolate as he was well supported by the midfielders and continued to terrorize Al-Wehdat's backline and got a couple of half-chances.

    In spite of all their possession and domination, it was the vistors who scored next and that came in the 44th minute.

    A counter-attacking move left the Bagan defence off guard and all that Hasan Abdel-Fattah had to do from a Yahia Jum'ah pass was stroke the ball into the back of the Bagan net, which he did and did with ease.

    Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa made a half-time substitution when he brought on Brazilian midfielder Marcos Pereira.

    That instilled more creativity and bite in the midfield and Bagan were all over Al-Wehdat in the first 10 minutes of the second half with Ishfaq Ahmed heading straight at goalkeeper Samih and Lalkamal Bhowmick trying his luck from distance.

    The hosts were demonstrating more urgency and intensity while Al-Wehdat seemed happy to soak the pressure but always kept an eye open for any potential counter-attack.

    Just after the hour mark, the Mariners made a double change as Bhowmick and James Singh were taken off and Branco Cardozo and Mama came on.

    The two changes seemed to bring an extra edge to Bagan's attack as Mama got his first chance soon after as he hit a shot from an acute angle; the ball, though, went over the crossbar.

    Bagan winger Ishfaq Ahmed too was looking to catch his opponents unaware and moments after Mama's chance, he carved out his own when he cut inside from the left but his shot went straight to Al-Wehdat custodian Malek Samih.

    The Green and Maroons' next chance came around 10 minutes before the final whistle. After intercepting the ball in midfield, Ahmed, Peter Odafe and Bhaichung Bhutia combined together and marched on. Ahmed drilled in an exquisite cross from the left but it was hit over the bar.

    The best chance of the half for Mohun Bagan came just one minute before the final whistle when Rakesh Masih's header from a few yards out hit the frame of the goal.

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