Mohun Bagan recorded a comfortable 2-1 victory against Colombo FC to book a place in the South-Zone playoffs of AFC Cup on Tuesday.
The match had gained much interest after the high-tension drama regarding the issuance of visa to three foreign players of the Colombo side. However, the ultimate grant of visa to three of them did not make much change as it was a kind of stroll in the park for Bagan.
Sony Norde scored in the 28th minute to make it 3-1 for Bagan on aggregate and Darryl Duffy scored a tap-in goals in the 56th minute to take the game beyond the Sri Lankan side’s reach. Ivorian Momas Yapo pulled a goal back in the closing stages but the game was already over by then and most of the Bagan supporters had already started their celebrations.
There was surprise in the Bagan starting line-up as they put in first-choice attacking trio of Sony Norde, Darryl Duffy and Katsumi Yusa in the starting line-up. The gamble might have been taken in order to provide some game time together for the three foreign attackers ahead of the challenging Kolkata Derby.
However, if the appearance takes a toll on the fitness of the key players in the big match can only be known after their game against Red and Gold Brigade. Debjit Majumdar, Sehnaj Singh and Pritam Kotal are three first team players who were given rest keeping derby in mind.
On the other hand, Colombo FC coach Mohamed Roomy gave start to all the three foreigners Nasiru Opayemi, Yapo and Afeez Olayemi. The team also saw return of club captain Rawme Mohideen, as expected.
Olayemi got past his marker Shouvick Chakraborty, who was deployed as a right-back, twice but could not convert it into anything significant. Bagan had plenty of possession during initial period and Bikramjit Singh Sr. and Jr. both produced some fabulous balls for the front line.
However, it Sony who opened the scoring by taking a shot of Darryl Duffy square pass from 22-yards, which took a deflection of goalkeeper Mohammed Imran before going in. Bikramjit senior got a chance to double the lead, when Nordy sent in a beautiful ball for him in the box. But he could only hit it straight on gloveman’s body and the chance went begging.
The only significant attack by the Colombo side saw Mohamed Rifnaz taking a shot of Nagur Meera cross, but it was not enough top beat Shilton Pal.
In the second half, Bagan doubled the lead 11 minutes into the half as Norde’s squared-up ball was tapped-in by omnipresent Duffy. The game was secured now and Bagan coach brought in Balwant Singh for Sony.
Shouvik cleared a goal-bound ball off the line and Shilton made two impressive saves to continue the three goal cushion. Mariners got a chance to enhance it to four when one of the opposition defenders handled the ball inside the box to concede a penalty. However, Balwant’s attempt was saved by Imran and it was the visitors who ended up pulling a goal back.
Silva cleared Yapo who got past four Bagan defenders and creamed it into the net to reduce the margin. However, it was too late by then and Maroon-Sun had already risen on Rabindra Sarobar Stadium.
The stern test of Kolkata derby awaits the Mariners; next and they will have to take care of their defense if they want to win that game.
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