Mohun Bagan AC kicked off their I-League defence with a convincing 3-1 win over I-League Division II champions Aizawl FC with a brace from new acquisition Cornell Glen.
However, it was anything but a convincing performance for the Mariners, as Aizawl enjoyed majority of the possession. Aizawl FC started off the match with good tempo, closing down on Mohun Bagan early on, but it was the home side that took the lead with a brilliant goal from Cornell Glen in the fifth minute itself.
As the first half wore on, the side from Mizoram seemed to be taking control of the game with the slick passing that seems to have been infused into them by Spanish coach Manuel Renato Fraile. However, as Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen said ahead of the match, the three points are more important to his team.
Thus, the Green and Maroon Brigade sat back, playing on the counter attack. Their main threat was carried by Kean Lewis from the left flank, as he constantly troubled Aizwal right fullback Imanuel Lalthazuala.
The main threat from Aizwal’s side seemed to be striker Alfred Kemath Jayran, who constantly troubled Mohun Bagan centre-backs Kinghsuk Debnath and Sanjay Balmuchu.
It was Alfred’s holdup play that created uncertainty in the Mohun Bagan backline, as Pritam Kotal turned in a cross from Albert Zohingmawia, for the first own goal of this season’s I-League.
It did not take the Mariners long to get back into the lead as just six minutes later, their Lewis-Glen combination worked its magic yet again as the former crossed in, and the Liberian striker turned in the lose ball. Balwant Singh doubled Mohun Bagan’s lead just seven minutes later, to heap more misery upon the visitors.
Aizawl kept the majority of the possession, but they largely failed to trouble the home team, barring a stray shot from their Japanese midfielder Yuta Kinowaki that was saved by keeper Shilton Paul.
Keane kept on troubling Zuala from the left flank, which is why Fraile took him off to bring on Ricky Lallawmawma at the end of the first half.
It was all Aizawl in the second half however, as they surged forward in attack, to try and cancel out the two-goal lead taken by Mohun Bagan. They came close to halving Mohun Bagan’s lead, as Alfred took a shot from outside the box. However, Mohun Bagan centre-back Kinshuk Debnath rushed back and made a goalline clearance, to keep the score as it was.
Lewis kept troubling the Aizawl defenders on the counter, but the visitors were expertly closing them down in order to launch their counter attacks. Because of the possession play, Aizawl managed to win a flurry of corners, but Mohun Bagan kept thwarting their crosses.
One of these corner kicks by substitute David Lalrinmuana in fact curled back in towards the goal, but an alert Shilton Paul managed to keep it out.
Mohun Bagan failed to launch many attacks in the second half, as Aizawl played a good pressing game. The side from Mizoram impressed one and all with their attacking display, and perhaps just fell short due to their lack of experience in the top flight. We might as well expect much better results from the I-League Division II champions, if they can keep up their impressive performance.
Image Courtesy: AIFF Media .