SLFC battle from 2 goals down to win 3-2 in Super Cup
Shillong, Apr 4: Shillong Lajong FC demonstrated just what it means to never give up a fight as they battled back courageously from two goals down to beat FC Pune City 3-2 in their Super Cup round of 16 match in Bhubaneswar today.
Jonathan Lucca and Marcelinho put the Indian Super League side ahead before Abdoulaye Koffi pulled one back in the first half. Rakesh Pradhan then equalised for Lajong in the second half before Samuel Lalmuanpuia converted a penalty at the start of second half stoppage time.
Come-from-behind victories are a rarity for Lajong (it’s their first of the 2017-18 season) and they thoroughly deserved this one.
Bhubaneswar had been subjected to quite a bit of rainfall recently and the natural grass pitch was heavily waterlogged in places, which made the conditions trying for the players.
Pune City’s defence was a little too open early on, with Redeem Tlang going wide early on when given plenty of space, while Sheen Sohktung, who started for Lajong after only appearing as a substitute in the I-League, hitting the ball straight to Pune’s goalkeeper Vishal Kaith on two occasions.
Kaith and Isaac Vanmalsawma were two former Lajong players fielded in Pune’s starting XI. Another Meghalaya player, Chesterpaul Lyngdoh, would be fielded by Pune City as a second half substitute.
The first goal came about after a foul on Marcelinho in the 17th minute. Lucca curled in a deliciously long-range free-kick into the top corner of the net, beating Nidhin Lal. Five minutes later, Marcelinho was unmarked on the right and received a pass. He trapped the ball with his first touch and then pulled off a stunner, though Lal got a touch.
The third goal then arrived still with less than 30 minutes of the game having expired as Daniel Odafin fed the ball forward for Koffi, who beat his marker and slotted the ball low past Kaith.
Ashique Kuruniyan tried to chip the ball over Lal on the stroke of half time but the latter gobbled the ball at his second attempt and then within five minutes of the restart he blew a supreme chance to score from right in front of the SLFC goal off a cross.
Later on Lal was called on to make two fantastic saves, once diving to his left and the other a tremendously well-timed leap, within the space of 60 seconds.
Momentum then swung Lajong’s way when Sohktung fed the ball forward and Pune’s lackadaisical defence left Pradhan open to receive it and he left-footed a low shot past Kaith.
A foul committed by a charging Kaith on Koffi at the start of second half stoppage time gave Lajong a penalty, which captain and man-of-the-match Lalmuanpuia slotted to the right of his former team mate.
Whereas the first half was dominated by Pune, who looked almost effortless in possession and putting pressure on the SLFC citadel, the second half was completely different as Lajong closed down the Pune players effectively and they responded by getting more and more frustrated, which was shown in the awful fouls they committed, resulting in captain Marcelinho being sent off just before the final whistle for a second offence.
Lajong will next play Mohun Bagan on 11th April. The Kolkatans had beaten Churchill Brothers 2-1 on 1st April to reach the quarterfinals.
(Photo contributed by Shillong Lajong)