A first-half strike by PC Lalawmpuia helped Mohun Bagan beat Churchill Brothers 1-0 as the Goan side suffered their first defeat of the ONGC I-League at the floodlit Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Sunday.
The magic of Karim Bencherifa, the former Churchill Brothers coach, who was instrumental in transforming the team last season, was clearly evident right from the start.
The Moroccan's strategy of holding up the ominous Odafe Okolie and Felix Chimhaokwu paid dividends as the hosts prevailed in the first-half.
The visitors tried to gain some feet after the changeover but even luck did not favour the Churchill Brothers, who on goal difference had finished runners-up to Dempo in 2007-08.
Taking advantage of their home conditions, Mohun Bagan dominated match with some aggressive display in the first-half of the Round VII encounter.
With the Goan side's forward line up -- Odafe Okolie, Felix Chimhaokwu and Ogba Kalu Manna -- well-marked by the back-line of NS Manju, Habibur Rahman Mondal, Deepak Mondal and Isfaq Ahmed, Mohun Bagan did not give any chance to Churchill Brothers.
At a time when their strikers looked unpenetrative, a poor judgement from the part of Churchill Brothers' goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya was enough for the home team to go 1-0 up.
It was mercurial Lalawmpuia who did the honours in the 13th minute with a deft touch as Bhattacharya failed to get hold of the surging Mizo striker who got the cross from the mid-field by Marcos Pereira.
Five minutes later, Churchill Brothers got a golden chance to equalise. With Mohun Bagan defender Habibur Rahman Mondal making a mistake in the 18th minute, Churchill could have easily equalised but Khemtang Paite messed up an Odafe Okolie pass to remain 0-1 down.
The I-League leading scorer, Odafe Okolie, too missed his magic touch. The Nigerian ace, who is leading the I-League tally with nine goals, failed to convert a free kick in the 40th minute.
Churchill looked to step up their attack in the second half but their striking duo of Felix and Odafe lacked finishing touches even as Mohun Bagan defence was left in a disarray.
Minutes after the changeover, Felix failed to capitalise on a defensive lapse by Habibur Rahman Mondal.
Bagan's Lalawmpuia got a chance to increase the lead but his shot from an Isfaq Ahmed pass in the 68th minute was deflected Churchill goalkeeper Bhattacharya.
With two wins on the trot, Mohun Bagan now have nine points, three less than Churchill Brothers. In their last match, 10-man Mohun Bagan defeated reigning champions Dempo with an identical scoreline.