Mohun Bagan have created history by becoming the first Indian team to win an AFC Champions League qualifying match, as they overcame Tampines Rovers FC 3-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium, on Wednesday.
The Mariners clinched an early lead with Jeje Lalpekhlua flicked a low cross by Dhanachandra Singh (Dhana) over the Tampines custodian Mohamad Izwan. Sony Norde had done well to lay the ball off for Dana to cross it in, after using his strength to shrug off two markers.
Mohun Bagan looked lively from the start, and there was no sign of the measured approach that manager Sanjoy Sen had mentioned in the pre-match press conference.
Izwan was often called into action and he had to bail his side out early on, when Souvik Chakrabarti played a long ball through to captain Katsumi Yusa in the 14th minute. The Tampines custodian had to come out of his box to head the ball out of danger.
By the 20th minute, both the sides started to play a free flowing open style of football that kept flowing from one end of the pitch to the other. Sony Norde was on top form on the night, as he constantly looked to run at defenders, troubling Tampines left back Noh Rahman.
Mohun Bagan looked really dangerous going forward and created plenty of chances. However, ace striker Cornell Glen looked to be a bit off colour on the night, as he missed a flurry of chances, that he might have put off in his sleep on other days.
A low cross by Katsumi found the Trinidad & Tobago man unmarked in the box. However, the ball seemed to have taken a little bobble and Glen sliced his shot into the sky.
Mohun Bagan had another chance to go ahead, when Glen cut in from the left wing and was brought down inside the box by Kwon. Referee Jarred Jillett immediately pointed to the spot. Glen himself stepped up to take the penalty that he had earned, but it was a weak shot that goalkeeper Izwan saved easily.
This seemed to have given Tampines some new found energy as Hanapi tried to make a chance for goal, but Bagan defender Kingshuk Debnath was alert to the opportunity and blocked the shot.
The home team doubled their lead when Norde crossed it into the box where Glen was waiting in front of an empty goal. The Trinidad & Tobago man fumbled trying to receive the ball, but his bad touch trickled over the line.
The Singaporean side did not take much time to get one back, as midfielder Hanapi turned in a free kick from Hafiz. The away side went into the half time with a lot of confidence and needing one goal to level the score.
Tampines brought on Jordan Webb to attack Mohun Bagan from the left flank in the second half and his involvement in the second half troubled Pritam Kotal quite a lot.
Tampines thought they had leveled the scores when captain and top marksman Fazrul nodded in a free kick by Huzen. However the 30-year-old striker was flagged offside.
Prabir Das was substituted on for Glen, who was having a horrendous time on the pitch and failing to get himself into the box to receive crosses, as manager Sanjoy Sen looked to pack the midfield in the last 10 minutes of the match. The substitution worked wonders, as Das headed a Norde corner to Katsumi, who turned the ball in to restore the two-goal lead and create history for Mohun Bagan.
The Mariners created history with this win, as they became the first Indian side to win in an AFC Champions League match. However Mohun Bagan have a difficult fixtures list coming up, with a match against DSK Shivajians on Saturday and then an away match Shandong Luneng Taishan FC from Jinan on Tuesday.
The AIFF have refused to postpone the I-League fixture in the weekend and Mohun Bagan will have to weather a difficult period, clustered with Asian and domestic football.
Image Credits: AFC
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