Mapusa: Back in I-League action after AIFF's decision to revoke two-year ban, Mohun Bagan began their I-League campaign on a disastrous note losing 0-2 to Salgaocar, here on Sunday. Played amidst heavy security and with policemen guarding the team benches, Salgaocar scored through their foreign recruits Gabriel Obatola and Josimar da Silva, to move out of the relegation zone.
It was also an embarrassing defeat for Karim Bencharifa, who had dumped the Goan outfit midway into its season after getting a lucrative offer from the Kolkata giants. Starting with a clean slate, Bagan failed to open their points tally and now have 15 matches to save relegation. Salgaocar recruited three foreigners to pull themselves out of the relegation zone and the foreigners did well with Gabriel Obatola and Josimar scoring a goal each.
The Goan giants were in complete control as they had better ball possession and could have taken early lead had Obatola not wasted a penalty and later Bagan keeper Arindam Bhattacharya making two stunning saves before their cidatel fell in the 35th minute. Salgaocar had a chance to surge ahead in the 12th minute itself when Gilbert Oliveira's cross was handled inside the danger zone by Bagan defender Eche and referee Andrew Shekhar awarded a spot-kick.
Obatola, Salgaocar's new Nigerian striker, stepped up, sent the goalkeeper the wrong way but the ball sailed out much to the disappointment of the two packed stands. It was Obatola, however, who made amends and put Salgaocar ahead in the 35th minute after Josimar Martins had done extremely well to create panic in the Bagan defence with a superb run. Bagan's only chance of the half fell for Tolgay Ozbey, but the Australian strikers' attempt was well saved by Karanjit Singh.
In the second half, Bagan had an early chance which Snehashish Chakraborty missed, and after that it was Salgaocar who seized the initiative. Salgaocar's second goal came in the 62nd minute and it was Obatola again who was at the heart of the action. His drive from inside the box was parried away by Arindam only to see the ball fall on the path of Josimar who shot home to give Salgaocar full points and give the team breathing space as they are now above the relegation zone with 14 points from 16 matches.