Indian champions Mohun Bagan romped their way to the top of Group G in the AFC Cup with a convincing 5-2 win over Maldivian side Maziya Sports & Recreation Club (S&RC). A brace from Jeje Lalpekhlua and their marquee forward Cornell Glen helped the Mariners begin their AFC Cup campaign in convincing fashion today at Guwahati, Assam.
Having been forced to play their home games nearly a thousand kilometres away from their home town of Kolkata due to unavailability of grounds, Sanjoy Sen’s men didn’t let the lack of home support count in this one. The home team, in fact, dominated the game from the beginning to the end and never let the side from Maldives even smell of upsetting the applecart.
With Mohun Bagan struggling to find their feet in front of goal in recent matches, the early signs looked ominous as the off-form Cornell Glen missed a guilt edged chance to put the home side forward within the opening fifteen minutes. However, when the first goal finally arrived in the 19th minute, it was well worth the wait. The home team’s despair was turned to joy as Mohun Bagan’s Haitian star Sony Norde put the Mariners in front in the 19th minute with a screamer from a free-kick from about 30 yards out.
The Indian champions, however, didn’t let the peddle move away from the metal even after the first goal and were soon rewarded for their due diligence. The game was nearly killed off by the 35th minute as Mohun Bagan built a three-goal lead. A 33rd-minute strike from Jeje Lalpekhlua was soon followed by another from their Trinidad and Tobago international Cornell Glen a couple of minutes later.
The second-half on the same note as the first as the first, with Sony Norde creating the first chance of th half in the 55th minute. However, against the run of play, a blatant error at the back from Raju Gaekwad gave the visitors their first moment of joy in the contest.
As the ball broke to the Indian international near the edge of his own six-yard, Gaekwad’s decision to try and dribble it away proved to be a costly one. He was quickly dispossessed and a low cross to the far post found Ahmed Imaaz unmarked. Imaaz didn’t make any mistake, slotting the ball home to make it 3-1.
There was no cause for panic for the home side as Jeje Lalpekhlua added another goal to his name in the 69th minute. A brilliantly played ball from Cornell Glen found Kean Lewis, who was barging upon goal from the right. While, he failed to beat the onrushing goalkeeper with his attempted chip, the ball fell kindly to Jeje, who slotted in his fourth goal in as many games off the underside of the post.
The rout would be over four minutes later as Cornell Glen fired in his second. The international forward, who has been off-colour lately finally showed some promise, firing into net after having capitalised on some lackadaisical defending from the visitors.
The visitors were able to pull another back fifteen minutes from time. Another error from Raju Gaekwad this saw the Indian international put the ball into his own net and past a hapless Shilton Paul in his attempt to clear another low cross.
Jeje Lalpekhlua missed a golden opportunity of finishing the game with a hat-trick to his name late in the game. But his miss meant Raju Gaekwad's erroneous touch remained the last goalscoring action for the night.Published 24 Feb 2016, 23:52 IST