Kolkata: Mohun Bagan could not have asked for a better start to their 10th Hero I-League campaign as they dominated Minerva Punjab FC 4-0 in a lopsided encounter at the Rabindra Sarovar Stadium on Tuesday.
Darryl Duffy and Jeje Lalpekhlua scored two goals each in a match where star Haitian Sony Norde played like a dream enthralling the crowd with his trickery on the ball. Defender Eduardo Ferreira also made his debut for the home team.
The hosts, Mohun Bagan, made a host of changes replacing injured Kinshuk Debnath, Shouvik Ghosh, Raynier Fernandes, Sehnaj Singh and Balwant Singh with Norde – who made a much-awaited debut –Subhasish Bose, Pronay Halder and Jeje.
The visitors chose a 4-2-3-1 formation with just-signed Ivan Filatov of Kyrgyzstan the lone striker upfront. Victor Amobi manned the right wing with U-22 player Anirudh Thapa on the other flank. India age group players Germanpreet Singh and Fanai Lalrempuia were deployed in the middle of the park.
It took Mohun Bagan just sixteen minutes to get off the mark. Norde won a free kick on the left hand inside channel after beating away team defender Loveday Okechukwu for pace. From the Haitian’s take, Duffy nodded in a free header.
Twelve minutes later, last season’s prolific goalscorer Jeje got in the act, tapping in a Subhashish square ball from the left after playing one-two with Norde.
Minerva looked at sixes and sevens as Norde toyed with their defenders.
Duffy made it four goals in two matches four minutes later when Katsumi set up the Scotsman with a long ball from the centre which Loveday made a hash of. The former Salgaocar striker used his right toe to put it past an onrushing Kamaljit.
The Mohun Bagan Team went into the breather with a hefty lead of 3-0.
In the second half, Minerva mustered two chances. First, Filatov scuffed his effort wide of the far post and then Victor Amobi curled in a good attempt which Debjit tipped onto the crossbar. Manandeep Singh was introduced by coach Surinder Singh to try and salvage something from the tie but it was all one-way traffic.
In the 77th minute, Loveday was at fault again, this time not helping his keeper who fell while clearing a ball which Jeje poked in past him and over the line. Pronay Halder pass the ball to Jeje who tried to find substitute Bikramjit Singh in the clear. But some porous defending helped the Mizo-striker find the back of the net himself.
It was a fortuitous goal of sorts for last season’s top scorer but the fact he got going should please Sanjoy Sen who also saw substitute Balwant Singh miss a good chance at the end of the match.
Manandeep was lucky to escape a red card when he needlessly hit Anas Edathodika.
(This story is received from the source mentioned and may or may not have any editing involved.)