Kolkata: Chennai City FC continued their unbeaten run by holding Mohun Bagan to a 1-1 draw in an entertaining I-League clash at the Vivekananda Yuba Bhatari Krirangan here on Saturday.
After a barren first period, star forward Sony Norde scored a magnificent goal from 21 yards to help the hosts take the lead in the 50th minute. But Chennai’s Spanish midfielder Nestor Gordillo equalised in the 81st minute to ensure the visitors remained unbeaten after seven games to stay top of the table with 17 points.
Mohun Bagan, who looked on course to get back to winning ways after their humiliating 0-3 defeat to Churchill Brothers, remain fourth with nine points from six games. Chennai coach Akbar Nawas welcomed back captain Pedro Manzi, who missed out the last two games due to injury. The last time he was seen on the football pitch was incidentally on this ground itself, when his side won 2-1 against East Bengal on November 13.
Mohun Bagan made three changes with Shilton Paul, Dalraj Singh and the misfiring Aser Dipanda not featuring in the team. Under the bar came Sankar Roy with Kimkima and Omar Elhussieny being also drafted in.
The first chance of the game fell to the hosts when Henry Kisseka cut back for Mahata inside the box but the latter shot straight at Santana, who pushed the ball away. Sony Norde then made a darting run down the left flank but his pass could not find a player inside the area.
Egyptian Elhussieny, playing just behind Kisseka in the hole, shot over the bar from a Mohun Bagan corner which was not cleared properly by the Chennai defence.
At the other end, Nestor Gordillo beat Arijit Bagui to set up Manzi but the ball was too wide for the Spaniard to have a crack wit Yuta Kinowaki clearing the ball for a corner. In the first half an hour, Mohun Bagan looked the more likelier of the two outfits to take the lead, keeping possession better and making more inroads into the final third.
The league leaders, meanwhile, tried to build attacks through their Spanish trio of Nestor, Sandro Rodriguez and fit-again Manzi but Sourav Das and Yuta kept them at bay expertly sitting just behind the four-man defence. Towards the end of the first half, Mohun Bagan were dealt a blow when the impressive Pintu Mahata injured his hamstring and had to be replaced by Amey Ranawade.
Ranawade then won a corner minutes after coming on with Santana failing to collect the ball from the flag kick and making a meal out of it. Sourav Das shot from distance, injuring the visiting goalkeeper briefly in the process, as both teams went into the break having failed to break the deadlock.
It was all about Norde’s strike in the second half as it left the Chennai players bedazzled. Norde collected a chipped ball from Kisseka to first leave Edwin Vanspaul and Gaurav Bora in his trail and curl the ball into the top corner of the net past a hapless Santana.
He then was hit on the face by Lourdusamy raising fears among the home supporters as their hero stayed on the ground for some time before receiving medical treatment.
Mohun Bagan got a major reprieve in the 74th minute when Mohaideen’s cross found Sandro, whose header came off the upright.
Ranawade was guilty of missing a glorious opportunity at the other end, turning wide Abhishek Ambekar’s cross. With nine nine minutes left on the clock, Nestor pulled level before Sandro again hit the woodwork minutes before the final whistle.