I-League’s defending champions Mohun Bagan enjoyed a comfortable and comprehensive 3-1 win against Tampine Rovers, the visiting club from Singapore, in the AFC Champions League tie which was played out at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata.
Goals for Mohun Bagan came from Jeje Lalpekhlua (5'), Cornell Glen (41') and Katusmi Yusa (83'). While the only goal of the match for Tampine came from their midfielder Yasir Hanapi (43’).
The first half was dominated by Mohun Bagan right from the commencement of the match to the end of the first half. Bagan played with a 4-2-3-1 while Tampines used a 4-3-3.
Sanjoy Sen’s Bagan began their assault on the front foot and registered their first goal at the 5th minute. Sony Norde, Bagan’s left-winger took on Tampines’ Izdin and Kwon on the left, went past them and then passed the ball back to Dhanachandra Singh who had anticipated the pass earlier and was at the right place to receive it. He then looped the ball perfectly over the Tampines defence for Jeje Lalpekhlua who flicked the ball into the net to make it 1-0 and give Bagan the lead.
Having taken the lead Mohun Bagan seemed comfortable with the ball as they denied Tampines Rovers space on the field and through small passes built up their attack. Sony Norde and Katsumi Yusa dazzled on the wings, giving Mohun Bagan the width and the creativity that formed the backbone of their attack.
Hafiz got a chance to equalize for the visitors when Shahdan passed the ball to Chris on the right wing, who crossed the ball back into the oppositions goal box but Hafiz headed the ball wide.
Sony Norde missed a brilliant chance around the 19th minute. Had he scored it would have been perhaps the most memorable goal of the evening. It was a stunning long range shot from Norde, who cut in from the left and took a right-footed shot at goal but it was stopped by the Tampines keeper Mahbud.
Attacks kept pouring in from Bagan. Katzumi passed a brilliant lofted ball from the right wing for Glen. However, the Trinidad and Tobago striker took a poor first touch which made him loose control thus the shot he took was a poor one and was easily stopped again by Mahbud.
Tampines’ Hafiz came up with a scoring chance when he tried to curl the ball in the near post from a free-kick, but he failed to do so.
For sometime the game was was slowed down as both the midfields tried to take control, but soon after Bagan got a penalty. Glen was fouled by Kwon inside the penalty box but the striker blew the chance with poor penalty kick straight into the hands of Mahbud.
The second goal for Mohun Bagan came during the 41st minute and was scored by Glen. Norde passed the ball to Glen who only needed a proper touch to put the ball in the net but Glen failed to do that. He slipped and fell down but the goalkeeper, who himself was on the ground, failed to gather himself up and the ball rolled inside to put Bagan further ahead.
Rovers got their only goal two minutes before half-time. Kinshuk Debnath tripped Hafiz inches outside the penalty box. Rovers were given a free-kick. Hafiz took the free kick and and unmarked Yasir Hanapi headed the ball into the net.
During the second half Tampines almost scored their second goal from Chris’s free kick but the referee whistled for offside.
A hand ball from Tampines offered Bagan a free kick which Katsumi took, the ball reached Glen who went for a header which was stopped by Izwan.
Mohun Bagan’s third goal came at the 84th minute. Mohun Bagan got a corner which was taken by Norde. Prabir Das, who was substituted for Glen, headed the ball for Katsumi and the Japanese international calmly collected the ball and shot with his right to find the back of the net.
Some composure and resistance was offered by Tampines Rovers in the second half but over all Mohun Bagan was the better team. They will now face Chinese outfit Shangdong Luneng.