Siliguri, Sep 20: Mohammedan Sporting continued from where it had left in the qualifiers to down Durand Cup champions Air India by a lone goal in a Group B match of the Federation Cup here at Kanchanjungha Stadium Thursday.
The Kolkata side could well have won by a bigger margin but for the sequences of misses that kept its winning margin to minimum.
A barren first half was all about the misses committed by the Mohammedan Sporting strikers, who could only produce half-hearted efforts to let go the opportunities.
Midfielder Mohammad Mukhtar brought his goal-poaching skills to a good effect to produce the only goal for Mohammedan Sporting after the break in the 54th minute.
Sporting could have taken the lead in the second minute when its striker David Sunday got himself clear of the Air India defence but ruined the advantage by firing his attempt on the upright.
Sunday found more of his teammates – striker Ashim Biswas and midfielders Phoolchand Hembram and Jayanta Sen – repeating his tentativeness in the box with scrappy attempts later in the action.
Sunday was particularly unlucky finding his second attempt in the 49th minute blocked by the Air India upright again.
Mukhtar finally came to Mohammedan Sporting’s rescue when won the ball of an Air India defender and followed it up with a brilliant right-footer from around 20 yards.
The ball sailed through the top angle of the goal keeping the Air India custodian Sukhvinder Singh rooted to his position.
Air India tried to regroup late and opened the Sporting defence twice but failed to find the equaliser. Nigerian striker Henry Ezeh came at the end of both the chances for Air India, in the 86th and 93rd minutes, but could not produce the required finish.
Result: Md Sporting 1 (Mohammed Mukhtar) beat Air India 0.