Trinidadian hitman Willis Plaza stamped his class yet again as he struck a brace to help Churchill Brother FC beat Mohun Bagan 4-2 in an I-League match at Kalyani on Sunday.
Plaza (2nd, 38rth) and Robert Primus (29th) did the damage in the first-half before Radanfah Abu Bakr (76th) put the match beyond the reach of Mohun Bagan.
For the Mariners, Fran Gonzalez (34th) converted from the penalty spot and Subha Ghosh (90th) found the target.
Mohun Bagan started with one change with Ashutosh Mehta playing for the first time this season. Churchill Brothers fielded an unchanged eleven that defeated Punjab FC in their season opener.
The first half began with the visitors taking charge right from the start. Churchill’s efforts yielded immediate result as they took the lead in the second minute itself when their talismanic Plaza made no mistake in finding the back of the net, connecting a cross from Gambian Dawda Ceesay.
The home side were left baffled with this early strike and looked helpless trying to defend a series of attacks from Goan side thereafter.
Mohun Bagan slowly organised themselves by increasing the pace of their game but lack of creativity in the final third left them frustrated. The Spanish duo of Colinas and Beitia, with support from Naorem and Britto, did create trouble for the Churchill defenders but their efforts to score were foiled by the Goan defenders.
Against the run of the play, the Red Machines doubled their lead in the 29th minute when a perfect corner from Dawda Ceesay saw Robert Junior Primus finding the back of the net from a well-directed header.
The Mariners’ efforts, however, got the desired result when an individual effort from Naorem inside the Churchill Box helped the home side earn a penalty in the 33rd minute. Spaniard Javier Gonzalez slotted it calmly and the match sprung to life immediately.
Churchill, who are known for their attacking play, left no chance to capitalise on their lead and made it 3-1 in the 38th minute through a Plaza screamer from outside the box which caught Mariners goalkeeper Debjit napping. Debjit fumbled while gloving the ball and allowed it to roll into the goal.
Mohun Bagan started their second half on an attacking note and rightfully earned a few open chances as well, but lack of a poacher inside the box saw the home side unable to reduce the two-goal deficit.
In the 76th minute, Israil Gurung, who came off the bench, floated a long ball from the right flank and Abu Bakr leapt over his marker to score his first goal of this I-League season and make it 4-1 in favour of Churchill.
A shattered Mohun Bagan thereafter kept making mistakes in the midfield, even as Churchill defence was caught off guard by youngster super-sub Shubha Ghosh in the dying moments of the game.
The young striker who replaced Naorem converted a pass from Colinas to earn some respite for Mohun Bagan and much-needed confidence for himself.
Mohun Bagan made a few efforts to score but Salvador Martinez squandered those opportunities.
In the final minutes of the injury time, a stunning strike from Beitia was beautifully parried away by Churchill’s substitute goalkeeper James Keithan.
With six points from two games, Churchill Brothers now sit on top of the I-League points table followed by Gokulam Kerala, separated by goal difference.