Mohun Bagan overcome Shillong Lajong to enter semi-finals

Mohun Bagan registered a well-fought 3-1 victory over Shillong Lajong FC at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday to progress to the semi-finals of the Hero Super Cup. SK Faiaz and Nikhil Kadam put them in the ascendency in the first half before Abdoulaye Koffi pulled one back for Lajong. But a second-half own-goal from Laurence Doe ensured the Mariners’ qualification to the next round.

The first half started on a fervent note, with chances being created on both ends. However, it was Mohun Bagan that drew first blood in the 12th minute, when Faiaz got on the end of a brilliant lofted pass from Dipanda Dicka. The midfielder almost lost his footing but did well to get his shot away, which crept into the far post leaving Lajong custodian Phurba Tempa Lachenpa with no chance.

The Kolkata giants then went on to double their lead only 10 minutes later through Kadam. The midfielder unleashed a thunderous shot from outside the box, which hit the underside of the bar before crossing the goal-line. Thereafter, Lajong had a chance to lessen the deficit in the 26th minute, when Kinshuk Debnath’s challenge on Sheen Stevenson led to a penalty being awarded to them. But Samuel Lalmuanpuia’s resulting spot-kick was comfortably saved by Mohun Bagan custodian Shilton Paul.

However, that didn’t break Lajong’s spirit who got themselves back through Koffi. The alert Ivorian was brilliantly found by Lalmuanpuia and managed to head the ball in before Paul could collect it. Lajong continued the pressure for the rest of the half in search of the equaliser but entered the breather with a one-goal disadvantage.

The Meghalaya-based side were on the front foot from the re-start and created the first chance of the half in the 54th minute. Stevenson had a good opportunity to score when he found himself one-on-one with Paul at the edge of the six-yard box, but the latter saved well to ensure that Mariners stayed in the lead.

On the stroke of the hour mark, Mohun Bagan proved their mettle when they scored their third goal to extend the lead. Arijit Bagui delivered an inch-perfect cross from the right wing into the box which Doe tried to fend off the onrushing Akram Moghrabi. But the ball, unfortunately, bounced off Doe’s head to enter the net.

After that third goal, the Kolkata-based side controlled proceedings for the rest of the game, barely affording Lajong a sniff back into the game. Koffi did have a chance to get his second of the night in injury-time, but Paul was on hand yet again to prevent it. With that piece of action, the 90 minutes came to an end with Mohun Bagan ensuring their unbeaten 2017-18 season run against Lajong stayed alive.

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