Kolkata, Sep 11 (IANS) Mohammedan Sporting Club virtually buried defending champions East Bengal's title hopes in the ongoing Calcutta Premier Division 'A' league following a 2-1 win at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Tuesday.
Mohammedan SC scored twice late in the second half through substitute Adjah Philip Tetteh (87th, 90+4 minutes) to make Johnny Acosta's opener (12th) count for little.
The result saw Mohammedan SC climb to the fourth spot in the league standings with 16 points from 8 matches. They will next take on Tollygunge Agragami on Saturday at the Barasat Stadium.
This is the second consecutive defeat for East Bengal. Peerless SC had upstaged them by a 2-1 margin in their last match.
East Bengal are now at the second spot in the 12-team table with 20 points from 10 matches. Their arch-rivals Mohun Bagan are at the top of the standings with 23 points from nine matches.
East Bengal face a must-win situation in their last match of the tournament against Food Corporation of India (FCI) on September 18. The defending champions have built up a fantastic record in the league in recent years, having won eight consecutive titles, starting from the 2010 season.
With two matches and a three-point lead in hand, Mohun Bagan are now the favourites to win their first local league title since 2009.
However, third-placed Peerless SC, who have given a stiff challenge to the two Kolkata giants this season, also have a slim chance of winning their first ever title. But for that to happen, Peerless, who have 19 points in their kitty, will need to win their remaining two matches and hope for a slip up by Mohun Bagan.
Mohammedan SC began Tuesday's game in attacking mode and created the first close chance in the first minute itself. Princewill Emeka did well to cut in past a couple of defenders from the left but his powerful drive sailed inches over the horizontal.
While East Bengal pressed high up, they managed to take the lead against the run of the play at the other end. Acosta capitalised on a defensive error to beat Mohammedan SC custodian Arup Debnath from close range.
Having conceded early on, Mohammedan SC began attacking with intensity through Dipendu Dowary, Rahul K.P. and Princewill, but East Bengal managed to hold on by defending deep in their own half.
The second half was a similar story as Mohammedan SC dominated majority of the proceedings and almost camped in the rival half. While they pushed up front, close chances fell for Prosenjit Chakraborty, Laltu Hembram, Princewill and Dipendu but the they lacked the killer finish in the final third.
Technical Director Raghu Nandi brought on Adjah in place of Princewill in the 73rd minute as Mohammedan SC made a tactical change in their quest for the equaliser.
Mohammedan SC's persistence finally paid off in the 87th minute when Adjah scored a brilliant solo goal to make it 1-1.
Having equalised, Mohammedan SC increased their pressure and attacked the rival goal ferociously going close on a few occasions. Mohammedan SC's pressure yielded another goal as Adjah scored yet again in a spectacular fashion to ensure the full three points for his team.