Mohammedan Sporting Club brought down high-flying Abahani with a 2-0 defeat on their perennial rivals in their Grameenphone Bangladesh Premier League champions at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
Left-winger Sohel Rana and striker Wahed Ahmed struck one goal each in the first-half to entertain around 5,000 spectators under the floodlights.
This was the first defeat for the leaders and their first defeat against their arch-rivals since 2009.
The fourth win in 12 matches take Mohammedan to fifth position with 17 points while Abahani, despite their first defeat in 13 matches, remain on top with 27 points.
Abahani came into the game as favourites and enjoyed lion's share of procession but could hardly breach the Mohammedan backline which comprised three defenders in Rajani Kanta Barman, Hasan Al Mamun and Cameroonian Nyeck Nyobe. Mohammedan's new-signing Nigerian Ogbodo Augustine Chizoba and Beninese Oladikpikpo Okalawon too proved key players in midfield.
The game got off to a blistering start with Mohammedan coming close to taking a lead in the third minute, but winger Shariful Islam's 30-yarder failed to find the target despite the goalkeeper being out of position.
Afterwards Abahani started to gain confidence to control the midfield but they faced tough challenge from the opposition defenders and even goalkeeper Titumir Chowdhury stood solid under the bar to thwart three attempts.
Mohammedan went ahead in the 26th minute with a strike from young winger Sohel Rana. Sohel side-volleyed a rebounder off goalkeeper Shohidul Alam to find the near post from the left side of the box.
Mohammedan came close to doubling the lead in the next minute but Wahed, availing a through-pass from Okalawon advanced to the area to send the ball wide with only the goalkeeper to beat. However, the young striker made amends to increase the margin three minutes before the break.
Okalawon this time put a lob on the edge of the box and Abahani defenders stood still thinking of off-side and Wahed availed the opportunity to round off defender Samad Yousuf to drive a powerful shot past goalkeeper Shohidul Alam.
After resumption, it was Abahani who dominated the proceedings and created three to four chances but the Sky Blues could not overcome the last hurdle of goalkeeper Titimur Chowdhury, who brilliantly saved two free-kicks from Awudu Ibrahim and Zahid Hossain and he blocked a close-range header from Twum Frank on 78th minutes.
With seven minutes remaining, Mohammedan were reduced to 10 men as goal-scorer Sohel picked up his second yellow card before goalkeeper Titimur once again foiled a Shakawat Hossain Rony shot.
“The better side won the game,” said Mohammedan coach Emeka Euzigo.
“We knew we were going to win the game against Abahani after the performance against Brothers as boys are in right frame of mind,” said Emeka claiming that Mohammedan are now the best side in the league.
Abahani's Iranian coach Ali Akbar blamed the weak mentality of his charges for the loss.
“We did not play well. It was the worst match we played in the league. It seemed to me that the boys were over-confident after continuous success and that type of mentality cost us heavy” said Akbar adding that Mohammedan played better and were more motivated.