Fed Cup: Bagan thrashes Lajong FC 5-0

The 13-time Fed Cup champion now travels to Shillong to play the away fixture on May 14. Lajong now needs to win by a margin greater than six goals at home if it fancies any chance of reaching the final round.

Indian international striker Jeje was in top form for the Mariners.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy (File Photo)

Jeje Lalpekhlua fired a hat-trick as Mohun Bagan took a big step towards realising the final berth by blanking Sillong Lajong FC 5-0 in the first leg of the Hero Federation Cup semifinal here at the Vidyasagar Stadium, on Sunday. Bikramjit Singh and substitute Azharuddin Mallick scored one apiece to accomplish one of the biggest winning margins for the city giant in recent time.

Bagan last beat Bengaluru FC by a similar margin to realise the I-League runner-up spot barely a couple of weeks ago. The 13-time Fed Cup champion now travels to Shillong to play the away fixture on May 14. Lajong now needs to win by a margin greater than six goals at home if it fancies any chance of reaching the title round.

Mohun Bagan did well in preserving the dominance that marked its performance against Salgaocar FC in the quarterfinals, from where it progressed with a big 7-2 aggregate. Banking on a youthful side that impressed with speed and fitness, the North-East giant started well mounting relentless attack on the host. But the absence of a good striker seemed to hamper the visitor’s offensive intent.

Lajong FC coach Tangboi Singto tried his best attacking option fielding the Brazilian attacking combination of Fabio Pena and Uilliams Souza Silva. The latter had scored a late equalizer against the other city giant East Bengal in the quarters to ensure the passage to the semis. Singto, who has built the Lajong side with a host of AIFF academy graduates, sought to upstage the host on the same lines that undid a formidable East Bengal side but the lack of finishing spoiled the plot.

Mohun Bagan regrouped towards the end of the first half and ensured its effectiveness scoring two quick goals. The Bagan attack came good on the skills of its Haitian World Cupper Sony Norde, who opened the sluice gates with a brilliant assist in the 40th minute. Jeje finished the move after Nordy had cleared the Lajong defence with a skillful run. Norde’s first attempt was blocked by the Lajong goalkeeper Vishal Kaith but the India striker did well to follow till the end and slotted home the lose ball. Bagan made it 2-0 by the 45th minute when Bikramjit Singh finished off a flick from the Trinidad and Tobago striker Cornell Glen.

Bagan continued the assault after the break and found another two by the 55th minute to virtually end Lajong’s hopes of making a comeback. Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen found his overtly attacking arrangement — that is spun around the efficiency of Norde, Glen, Japanese Katsumi Yusa and Jeje — coming good once again as the four combined to find the third goal which the Indian finished in the 51st minute. Jeje completed his hat-trick in the 55th minute when Bagan launched the perfect counter-attack to finish it in a goal. As Lajong hoped for the barrage to stop, Azaharuddin Mallick, who replaced Geln late in the second half, found the fifth latching on to a precise back-centre from Norde.

The result: Mohun Bagan 5 (Jeje Lalpekhlua 40, 51, 55, Bikramjit Singh 45, Azharuddin Mallick 87) bt Shillong Lajong FC 0.

Player of the match – Jeje Lalpekhlua.

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