Defending champions Mohun Bagan gave a good start to their title defence by comfortably beating the newly-promoted Aizawl FC 3-1 in the opening match of the Hero I-League at the Vidyasagar Satdium in Barasat on Saturday. Cornell Glen scored twice and Balwant Singh added another to complete Mohun Bagan’s tally. Aizawl’s first I-League goal came through Mohun Bagan defender Pritam Kotal, who scored an own goal.
Despite missing a few big names like Haitian forward Sony Norde, Brazilian defender Luciano Sabrosa and Indian striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, Mohun Bagan came up with an impressive show under their successful coach Sanjoy Sen. The combination of Balwant Singh and Glen did well in the attack as Mohun Bagan picked up the lead early in the fifth minute. With Japanese midfielder Katsumi Yusa giving good support in the middle Mohun Bagan found space in the opposition half quite often.
Glen, the Trinidad and Tobago forward, who moved to Bagan this season from Shillong Lajong FC, made the most of a move initiated by Balwant, who made a back-pass from near the goal-line to release an onrushing Kean Lewis on top of the box. Lewis’ effort deflected off an Aizawl defender providing Glen, positioned at the goalmouth, with the opportunity. But before Bagan could plot another successful attack, Aizwal FC found the equaliser on a quick counter-attack in the 16th minute when Kotal, who previously played for the ISL side FC Pune City, pushed the ball into his own net in an effort to clear an attempt from the former’s Liberian striker Alfred Jayran.
Not willing to be cowed down by the equaliser, Mohun Bagan opened up the lead again in the 22nd minute riding on another successful combination between Balwant and Glen. Balwant picked up the ball on a counter attack following an Aizawl corner and set up Glen on top of the box. The Trinidadian made no mistake and finished beautifully on a half-turn. Balwant capped a fine solitary effort in the 29th minute when he collected a floater and ran up to the Aiwal box before finishing it deftly, putting his shot through a couple of onrushing opposition defender and the Aizawl FC goalkeeper Soram Poirei.
The result: Mohun Bagan 3 (Cornell Glen 5, 22, Balwant Singh 29) bt Aizawl FC 1 (Pritam Kotal-og 16)