Shillong Lajong beat Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan 3-1 to move level on points with Churchill Brothers in Group D of the on-going Federtation Cup at Balewadi, Pune.
Steve Darby named Sunil Chhetri on the bench as he preferred to start with Jose Barreto and Odafa Okolie upfront.
The game started with neither team able to retain possession and giving away the ball way too cheaply. On the 20th minute mark, Lajong made a blistering counterattack with a low cross being driven in towards Eugeneson Lyngdoh, who slid in but failed to get a touch as the ball rolled out for a goal-kick.
The next twenty minutes were fairly quiet as the game was played majorly in the midfield.
Ashim Biswas was fed in by Syed Rahim Nabi in the 40th minute but the former’s shot went wide of the far post. Four minutes later, Odafa Okolie’s shot was parried by the Shillong Lajong goalkeeper, Ralte to Ashim Biswas, who missed another opportunity to break the deadlock.
Lajong made Bagan pay dearly on the stroke of half-time for their missed opportunities as a delightful through ball found its way to P.L.Lalhimthara, who chipped the ball over the keeper to put Lajong in lead.
The Mariners came out fighting after the break and Odafa Okalie on 47 minutes had a chance to level the score for Lajong but he missed. He made up for his miss ten minutes later; he controlled a ball played forward with his thigh and finished to perfection to level the scores.
A few minutes later a brilliant through ball by Murali Joseph to Odafa, who made a great run, saw him fire his shot wide from six yards.
On the 72nd minute mark, Lalramluaha’s pass found its way to John Menyongar, who scores from inside the box, guiding the ball expertly past the goalkeeper, Shilton Paul. It was just another case of horrible defending by Mohun Bagan with Anwar and Simon Storey to blame for.
Shillong Lajong’s lead was further extended five minutes later as Rakesh Masih’s back passed to the goalkeeper, Shilton, who tried to take a touch and pass it to the right, but instead stumbled on the ball and fell down. James Gbilee, who was next to the goalie dribbled the ball into the goal to ensure the victory for Lajong.
The substitute Sunil Chettri had a chance to pull one back in the 85th minute when he was through on goal. The Indian international missed a one on one chance with the Ralte making a fine diving save. The last ten minutes were dominated by Bagan but their failure to score gave Shillong Lajong a 3-1 victory.
Bagan, for all their names, were a big disappointment and would have to re-think their strategies once again.