Barasat, Mar 7 (UNI) Mumbai's Mahindra United pulled off a stunner, successfully defending the IFA shield title, defeating overwhelming favourites Santos FC of South Africa 3-1 in the final at the Barasat Stadium here today.
The brand of soccer, plattered out by the jeepmen, came as a complete surprise after being humbled by the South African side in the league matches 0-2.
Mahindra's hero on the day was Douhou Pierre, the man behind each of the three goals they scored. Very rightly the player from Ivory Coast was declared the man of the match.
Within 15 minutes of the first half, the Jeepmen went 2-0 up courtesy the Douhou-Yakubu combination. Yakubu drew first blood in the ninth minute off Douhou's pass from the right. Santos defenders were completely flummoxed by his sprint that caught the defence napping.
The same combination struck to double the lead six minutes later as Yakubu converted from top of the box after Douhou essayed an accurate pass from the centre.
The Capetown-based side never really looked settled against Mahindra's stiff defending.
The visitors relied too much on one touch football which also did them in.
However, they upped the ante after the lemon break and and striker Gregory Roelf reduced the margin with a sparkling header off Leon Godloza's measured freekick. This was the period that the South African side played to their potential as their dimunitive Ayanda Maqasha rattled the Mahindra defenders with excellent runs and superb ball control in the centre.
Quite surprisingly, coach Duncan Crowie replaced Maqasha with Jarren Moultrie in the 76th minute and it cost them heavily allowing Derrick Pereira's boys off the hook.
The Douhou-Yakubu combination once again looked to threaten.
Substitute Sushil Kumar Singh (replacing Manjit Singh in the 85th minute) hammered the final nail in Santos coffin as his left footer found the target. On this occasion as well, Douhou snatched the ball from Leon Godloza and set things up for Sushil.
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