Mohun Bagan AC set the pace early on in the Hero I-League with a convincing 2-0 win over Shillong Lajong FC in a second round match at the Rabindra Sarovar Stadium tonight, to leapfrog Aizawl FC at the top of the table.
The prolific Scottish striker Darryl Duffy scored once in each half to hand the hosts their second win in as many games. With the victory, Bagan now have six points from two matches.
Bagan made two changes with Shouvik Ghosh and Raynier Fernandes coming in places of suspended Subhashish Bose and Kean Lewis respectively.
Lajong also ringed in a couple of changes, Redeem Tlang and Hardy Cliff making way for Zodingliana Ralte and former Asier Pierrick Dipanda.
In the 17th minute, U-22 player Raynier Fernandes did well on the right inside channel to cut inside his marker and find Katsumi inside the box with the Japanese playmaker gliding his effort just wide of the far post.
Lajong had their share of chances too with U-22 player Bipin Singh and Isaac Chhachhuak wasting good opportunities from inside the area and free kick respectively.
For all the industry the hosts showed in the opening exchanges, Duffy brushed his criticism for his profligacy in the last game to find the back of the net after 20 minutes mark, turning Konsham Singh inside out to slot the ball past visiting keeper Vishal Kaith.
Fabio Pena came close soon after, heading just over the crossbar from an Isaac floater. Like their first game, Bagan led by a goal at halftime.
It was Lajong who got the first opportunity in the first minute of the second half as Dipanda headed wide. The Highlanders enjoyed early dominance and it was Anas Edathodika’s alacrity that halted a potentially good move created by Isaac’s short cross inside the box.
At the other end, Souvik Chakraborty’s good-looking cross ballooned off Balwant’s head and into the hands of Kaith.
Sehnaj Singh had to be taken off in the 62nd minute in what looked to be a light knock, with Pronay Halder replacing him. One goal up, the home side sat deep looking to attack the break. In the 68th minute, Pritam Kotal did ever so well to get past set up Katsumi inside the box. The former ONGC man knocked the ball down for Balwant but Dan Ignat blocked sturdily.
But Bagan did not have to wait much longer for a second goal. Duffy was at it again, prodding home a Balwant layoff after substitute Pronay sent a stinging low cross inside the box. With the match all but in their kitty, coach Sanjoy Sen sent Jeje Lalpekhlua to have a go in place of Balwant.
The AIFF Player of the Year showed his class towards the end of the game but his effort didn’t find the net, to add much agony to him.
(Report & Photo courtesy: I-League Media)