Anwar Ali rose to the occasion with a double strike as Mohun Bagan Super Giant overcame their derby debacle with a 3-1 win over Machhindra FC to confirm their South Zone playoff berth in the AFC Cup, in Kolkata on Wednesday. Mohun Bagan will face Abahani Limited Dhaka in their playoff fixture here on August 22. The Bangladesh outfit secured a 2-1 win over Club Eagles of Maldives in another preliminary round two clash on Wednesday.
Ali, the India centre back, first utilised a Hugo Boumous corner in the 38th minute for a well-connected header into the far post to give the Mariners a hard-fought lead against the run of play.
Mohun Bagan’s high profile signing and Australian World Cupper Jason Cummings, who started for the first time this season, then doubled the lead in the 59th minute with his left-footed strike in front of an open net.
The Kathmandu outfit, however, refused to give up and pulled one back through their Cameroon midfielder Messouke Oloumou (78th) to mount pressure in the last quarter.
The Mariners virtually sealed the issue from another set-piece when Dimitri Petratos delivered a right-footed cross from a free-kick and Ali struck from another header.
Wounds of the derby defeat still fresh in their minds, only 5,892 turned out in attendance.
The Juan Ferrando-coached side brought their A-game in display bringing in their premier signing Cummings up front, while attacking Indian midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad also got his name in the XI.
But they still looked rusty and Cummings disappointed the most with his listless show up front.
The Mariners led 1-0 at half-time, but going by the flow of the first-half they could have easily scored half a dozen goals, but for Bishal Shreshtha’s valiant saves under the bar for Machhindra FC.
There were a wave of attacks by Mohun Bagan right from start. In the very first minute Ashique Kuruniyan got the ball inside the box only to see his shot going wide.
Talented Sahal Abdul Samad’s also had a couple of misses inside the first half-hour mark.
First it was in the 10th minute when his bullet strike from an Anirudh Thapa assist was saved by the Machhindra goalkeeper, and then in 26th minute when he once again raided from the left but there was no headway still for the home side.
There were also misses from Subhashish Bose and Boumous as they fell short on finishing.
There was another setback for Mohun Bagan as their ace midfielder Kuruniyan suffered an injury after they scored their second goal and had to be stretchered off the field.
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