Shillong, Apr 11: Shillong Lajong FC were knocked out of the Super Cup with a 3-1 defeat to Mohun Bagan in the quarterfinal in Bhubaneswar today.
Bagan produced two extraordinary opening goals, first through SK Faiz in the 12th minute and then by Nikhil Kadam in the 22nd. Just three minutes later Lajong captain Samuel Lalmuanpuia had a penalty kick blocked by Mariners’ goalkeeper Shilton Paul. Lalmuanpuia quickly put that behind him to assist Abdoulaye Koffi in pulling a goal back with a header in the 28th minute. The second half saw Laurence Doe concede an own goal, which gave Bagan their two-goal advantage back.
Early on in the game it was Mohun Bagan all the way as Lajong were barely able to push through the midfield.
A nice little chip from Aser Dipanda for man-of-the-match Faiz found the latter unchallenged except for Kenstar Kharshong behind him. Faiz chested the ball down and fell to ground as Kharshong harried him, but even then he swung his boot and somehow placed the ball to the left of Phurba Tempa Lachenpa, who donned his gloves for the first time in five matches in place of Nidhin Lal.
The second Bagan goal was equally impressive, if a little controversial. A ball in by the Kolkatans was headed away by Doe but fell to Kadam well outside the box. Unmarked he sallied forward and unleashed his shot from near the penalty arc that clipped the crossbar and bounced down at least a couple of feet over the goal line and then back into play for Lachenpa to gather. The referee didn’t spot the ball crossing the line and at first play continued, but the linesman did see it and, after consultation with the referee, the goal was awarded to Bagan.
After being on the receiving end up until then Lajong got their first real chance when Sheen Sohktung received a push from behind while inside the opposition box, which gave the Reds a penalty. Lalmuanpuia, however, struck it low and straight, enabling Paul to block.
The skipper was terribly disappointed with himself, but his redemption came soon after as he controlled a long ball in the box and flicked it up under pressure from the defenders and Koffi sailed in to beat Paul to the ball and headed it in.
The heat rule was imposed shortly after, giving the two sides a chance to cool down and regroup after those hectic minutes prior. The scoreline didn’t change for the rest of the first half and at that point it looked awfully similar to Lajong’s round of 16 match against FC Pune City last week, where SLFC conceded twice before Koffi reduced the margin in the first half followed by a couple more goals for Lajong in the second.
The Shillong team came out the more aggressive side in the second half and that boosted hopes of another comeback, but these evaporated when Akram Moghrabi and Doe challenged each other for a header off a Faiz cross, but, though the Lajong player won the ball, it went straight into his own net in the 60th minute.
Momentum then swung the Mariners’ way, with a couple of rapid counterattacks almost paying dividends in the following minutes. Any counters by the Reds usually fizzled out well before they proved a threat.
Alison Kharsyntiew then chose to use three youngsters with minimal senior team experience as his substitutes – Allen Lyngdoh Nongbri (two appearances in the I-League), Samuel Kynshi (five appearances) and Donboklang Lyngdoh (first appearance in the senior team) – but though they brought fresh legs to Lajong’s cause, they couldn’t help alter the scoreline.
(Photo contributed by Shillong Lajong FC)