SRINAGAR: There was bone-chilling cold.
Then there was a Real Kashmir outfit used to such extreme conditions but Mohun Bagan still, making light of both, won their I-League match 2-0 here on Sunday.
After a barren first half, Joseba Beitia (71st minute) and Nongdamba Naorem (73rd) scored for the Kolkata giants in a span of two minutes, shattering the hopes of home fans.
It was a chilly morning, with the temperature dipping to 1 degree, but 11,500 Kashmiri spectators still enthusiastically watched the game against one of India's biggest and oldest clubs.
For tickets, they queued up since 9 o'clock in the morning, but quite a few of them still could not make it to the ground.
Such was the craze.
The game started at 11.
30 am at the TRC ground because of bitting cold, but the harsh weather conditions failed to stop the visitors from showing their skills.
The green and maroons had the lion's share of possession and more shots on target but the home side had more attempts and five more corners in a game which could have gone either way.
Mohun Bagan coach Kibu Vicuna started with newly-signed Senegalese striker Baba Diawara and brought in Dhanachandra Singh in the backline.
Scotsman David Robertson, the RKFC coach, however, preferred the same starting XI that won against reigning champions Chennai City in the previous game.
The visitors were strong from the starting whistle and notched up as many as three corners in the space of first six minutes.
Talented winger Nongdamba Naorem had his first chance of the game, in the 22nd minute, but his left-footer from inside the Kashmir box failed to cause any problem for goalkeeper Phurba Lachempa.
Both sides got golden chances to score but the first half remained goalless.
In the second half, while Bagan continued to dominate possession, the home side had better scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes.
Bazie had a shot on the turn from deep inside the Bagan box in the 49th minute but the effort sailed over the crossbar.
Then, Sankar Roy made the save of the game in the 65th minute to deny Mason Robertson, who attempted an header from close off a Higginbottom set piece.
By now, Kashmir had thrown in Ivorian striker Gnohere Krizo in the mix and had stepped up their attacks.
However, it was the visitors from Kolkata who turned the match on its head within a space of two minutes.
First, off a long Dhanachandra Singh throw from the right-flank, Daniel Cyrus somehow managed to deflect the ball in the path of an onrushing Beitia.
Beitia positioned his body perfectly to meet the loose ball with a right-footed jab, which powered its way through to the Kashmir net.
The ball went in off the keeper and Bagan were 1-0 ahead.
A couple of minutes later, another young Bagan talent S K Sahil showed outstanding vision and found substitute P M Britto down that same flank with a wonderful through ball.
Britto rushed in to clear and floated the ball back in.
Naorem, who had an outstanding game, was at the end of this one and blasted a perfectly-connected volley into the back of the net to hand Bagan a 2-0 lead.
Kashmir did make valiant attempts to come back and Loveday Okechukwu missed their best chance with less than five minutes to go.
Krizo, too, had an attempt from close, but to no avail.
RKFC co-founder Sandeep Chattoo said, "Definitely Mohan Bagan played a good game but I am quite confident that RKFC won hearts of its fans in Kashmir. Every match is lesson for us to improve further and I am sure we have learnt our lessons."
Robertson also expressed his thoughts and opined, "We played a good game. We lost our focus for five minutes against a team like Mohun Bagan and they capitalised on it. It's just these fine margins of football. I am just disappointed."
Mohun Bagan have 10 points from five games, while Kashmir dropped to eighth spot with five points from four games.
Mohun Bagan coach Vicuna expressed his joy and said, "We won against a tough opponent, but it was not out best match.
Real Kashmir were going with their set piece, but we played better football against Churchill brothers.
"Today we played good football, and copped with the difficulties of conditions."
The Mariners will next host Indian Arrows on January 9 while the Snow Leopards will host Punjab FC one day later.