Singapore club Tampines Rovers FC, nicknamed The Stags, looked for a perfect send off to their coach V Sundram Moorthy who is all set to take over the Singapore national side and they achieved it a man down, beating Mohun Bagan 1-2 in the extra time.
It was a closely contested match with both the teams battling out in high humid conditions, but visitors Rovers had the final laugh with defender Muhammad Afiq hitting the winner in the second half of the extra time.
Bagan missed on their full strength squad this time around as Katsumi Yusa was out injured while Sony Norde is away on international duty. And thus,an uninspired Bagan showed no attacking intent in the first half with only Cornell Glen taking care of the attacking third. The apparent fatigue of the Bagan players can be very well seen under high humid conditions with their star striker Jeje struggling upfront.
As for the visitors, it was a lacklustre performance from the visitors as they failed to convert a handful of easy chances. The first of it was a free kick which Jermaine Pennant took from just out of the box but overshot it by inches.
The home team had a very good chance to go ahead in the 18th minute but the beautiful corner by Tirthankar Sarkar was cleared at the goal line. Two minutes later, the mighty Stags came close to scoring when Pennant created a beautiful cross for Farzul Nawaz, but the latter missed the post hitting the ball wide.
These instances of hit and miss continued until the end of the first half with Jordan Webb missing a crucial chance in the 44th minute.
Things, however, did change for Bagan in terms of gameplay when Subash Singh was substituted for Cornell Glenn. Singh brought a new energy into the attack line, but could not ensure a goal for his side.
Just like the Federation Cup final, things were far more charged in the second half as both teams started on an attacking note. But 10 minutes into the game, Tampines Rovers were reduced to 10 men as Shakir Hamzah was sent off for collecting two yellow cards.
But what looked like an advantage Mohun Bagan turned against them as goalkeeper Arnab Das misjudged Jordan Webb's cross which ended at the back of the net. 10 men Tampines Rover were 1-0 up in the 64th minute. Jorden was however stretched out right after scoring the goal.
Bagan, however, did not look disheartened. Though they conceded a goal but they did not let the tempo of the game go down. In fact, with more crowd joining in after the half-time, the home team started a voracious onslaught on the opposition.
An equalizer was impending and it was Bikramjit Singh who turned out to be the hero. The midfielder hit a stunning right footer 30 years outside of the box to bring Bagan back into the game in the 74th minute.
There were no further goals in the stipulated time period of 90 minutes and the match headed into the extra time.
As the match moved into the extra time, weather started taking a toll on the players. The highly humid conditions of Guwahati decreased the pace of the players drastically as both the teams failed to score any goals in the first half of the extra time.
Things became far worse in the second half with even Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Arnab Das bending down due to cramps. The first close chance of the half came from the Rovers end when defender Noh Rehman hit a well-powered shot, just inches high of target.
Things turned worse for Bagan when Rovers were awarded a free kick right outside, on the left of the box and Mohammad Afiq hit a brilliant one touch to score the second.
With this win, Tampines Rovers moved on into the quarter-finals of the AFC Cup 2016.Published 24 May 2016, 21:58 IST