Mohun Bagan Super Giant planned an impressive second-half comeback to win 3-1 over Abahani Limited Dhaka in the AFC Cup knockout round at Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Tuesday.
The visitors impressed with their strong counter-attack in the first half, taking advantage of quick breakthroughs to create dangerous opportunities.
Mario Lemos’ tactics paid off in the 17th minute as their main marksman Cornelius Stewart benefited from a whistle from keeper Vishal Kaith, to take advantage of an opportunity against the game.
A key moment came in the 37th minute when Liston Colaco tripped, leading to Jason Cummings’ left-footed penalty to level the game before halftime.
After commanding their defense flawlessly, Iran center-back Milad Sheikhi Soleimani immediately turned villain when he scored into his own net trying to block Hugo Boumous’s deft pass. Mohun Bagan then turned it into style with Armenian striker Armando Sadiku opening his account to resolve the issue within an hour.
The win sealed Mohun Bagan’s spot in the Southern Regionals group stage, where last season’s Inter-regional semi-finalists will join Indian Super Cup champions Odisha FC, Bangladesh’s Bashundhara Kings and Cambodia Maziya Sports & Recreation club of Maldives.
Mohun Bagan also scored a brace against Abahani, after beating them by a similar margin at the same stage last season.
Juan Ferrando adopted a 3-5-2 formation, with Liston Colaco’s partner star Jason Cummings starting, but it did not produce the desired results as the Australian World Cup athlete remained in form. his best.
Despite their mental efforts, Cummings missed an early scoring opportunity when goalkeeper Abahani Mohammad Sahidul Alam made an easy save. The match saw action from start to finish, with Mohun Bagan making daring attempts from the left flank but failing to finish each time.
A well-timed Boumous pass nearly found Asish Rai in the box after 20 minutes, but the Abahani defense intervened. Abahani’s defense, commanded by Soleimani, showed its strength throughout the match. In the 28th minute, Boumous was fouled in the penalty area, but the referee dismissed the penalty appeal.
India’s star striker Sahal Abdul Samad had successive opportunities to test Abahani’s defense, but the opponent still held their ground. Sahal kept calm but missed the opportunity to take advantage.
The dynamic changed drastically in the second half when Mohun Bagan secured the lead thanks to an own goal.
A brilliant run involving Boumous culminated with a cross directed by Soleimani into his net. Mohun Bagan looked like a transformed team in the second half and there was little Abahani could do to overcome a second consecutive defeat in two seasons.
Having just led Abahani to victory with a decisive goal against the Club Eagles in the preliminary stages, Stewart led the attack beautifully that made Kaith nervous from the start.
In the closing minutes of the first half, Abahani nearly regained the lead with a header wide of the post from a free kick, but Kaith saved it, widening the post.
It was a game that took place in the second half as the hosts overcame an early deficit to secure their place in their group.