Mohun Bagan AC pummeled Club Valencia by an overwhelming margin of 4-1 to roar into the Group Stage of AFC Cup 2017, which is going to be the Mariners second consecutive appearance in the continental championship. Over the course of the two legs, Mohun Bagan outplayed the Maldivians by a handsome margin of 5-2 as they had earlier played a 1-1 draw with the Maldivians in the first leg.
Jeje Lalpekhlua (2′ pen, 81′), Sony Norde (87′) and an own goal from Club Valencia midfielder Nihan Hussain (45′) secured the Mariners in group E alongside AFC Cup finalists JSW Bengaluru FC (India), Maziya Sports & Recreation (Maldives) and Abahani Limited Dhaka (Bangladesh).
Jeje Lalpekhlua drew the first blood from the penalty in the second minute when the opponent defender mistakenly handled the ball inside the 18-yard box. Towards the last minutes of the first-half, Nihan Hussain netted an own goal, just to add more misery for the visitors.
Seven minutes into the second half, Omodu Godfrey instilled life in the match when he halved the difference from the top of the box.
Albeit the hosts flooded the Maldivian team with a flurry of attacks, the panache was missing amongst the valiant Mariners.
AIFF Player of the Year 2016 Jeje Lalpekhlua bagged another goal in the 81st minute. Three minutes to the end of the regulation time, Haitian game maker Sony Norde, who didn’t travel to Maldives for the first leg, nailed the final one in the Club Valencia coffin through a side tapping.
Following this victory, Mohun Bagan will be clubbed with other three clubs from the South Asian zone in the group E of AFC Cup. The Group champion will, eventually, qualify to the Inter-zone Playoff Semi-finals.
Mohun Bagan’s AFC Cup fixtures (Group E) are noted below:
March 14: JSW Bengaluru FC (A)
April 4: Abahani Limited Dhaka (H)
April 18: Maziya Sports & Recreation (H)
May 3: Maziya Sports & Recreation (A)
May 17: JSW Bengaluru FC (H)
May 31: Abahani Limited Dhaka (A)
(Report & Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)