A shaky Mohun Bagan had to sweat before skipper Bhaichung Bhutia's splendid effort earned them a hard-fought 2-1 win over Chirag United and kept them in hunt for the ONGC I-League title at the Vidyasagar Krirangan, in Barasat on Monday.
An own goal from Chirag United player Arnab Mondal gave Mohun Bagan the lead at the stroke of half-time.
But Mohun Bagan failed to cash in on the advantage as Chirag United brought the match on an even keel with a clinical effort from Snehashish Chakraborty in the 77th minute.
Less than a minute later, Bhutia was at his best to help his team earn three points with a superb goal.
Having suffered back to back defeats to Al Karama and Al Wehdat in the AFC Cup, Mohun Bagan struggled to get their act together allowing Chirag United much leeway.
However, the league debutants failed to convert the chances that came their way.
In the eighth minute Gouranga Datta beat the defence and delivered a cross to Snehashish, who failed to connect.
Subroto Bhattacharya's boys defended resolutely, never allowing much space to Mohun Bagan strikers Jose Barreto and Bhutia to operate.
However, Chirag United's good work came to nought just before change of ends when Mondal tapped the ball into his own net from a melee inside the box.
Buoyed by the goal, Mohun Bagan stepped on the gas in the second session but in enthusiasm left Chirag United striker Shankar Oraon unmarked and nearly paid the price in the 75th minute.
The Chirag United striker just had Sangram Mukherjee to beat but shot over.
Chirag United did not have to wait long as three minutes later Snehasish made amends for his earlier lapse with a powerful left-footer.
Their joy was shortlived as Bhutia put the finishing touches.
A perfectly floated free-kick by Marcos Pereira was headed into the ground by the India and Mohun Bagan skipper. The bounce deceived Chirag United custodian Robikanta Singh and hit the back of the net.
The win helped Mohun Bagan boost their tally to 36 points from 18 matches.