Mohun Bagan Super Giant started its title defence in style as it beat the newly-promoted Punjab FC 3-1 to open the Indian Super League campaign at the Salt Lake Stadium on Saturday.
Jason Cummings, Dimitri Petratos, and Manvir Singh, who came in as a substitute, found the target for Mohun Bagan. Luka Majcen produced the lone reply for Punjab.
Mohun Bagan, which came into the match with an impressive record of winning eight and losing just one earlier in the season, continued to show good form and got past the I-League champion fairly easily.
The host went into the game without its two midfielders Anirudh Thapa and Ashique Kuruniyan. Thapa had to sit out as the league committee sought to acknowledge the red card he received in the Durand Cup final, which was his last appearance in a tournament of the domestic calendar. Ashique is virtually ruled out of the season with an ACL injury he suffered while on national duty.
AS IT HAPPENED: Mohun Bagan Super Giant vs Punjab FC highlights
Sahal Abdul Samad and Glan Martins manned the centre of the field as Mohun Bagan coach Juan Ferrando sought to balance its attack keeping the Australian duo Petratos and Cummings in the lead.
The host scored the opener in the 10th minute when Asish Rai chugged up on the right to find Samad with a cutback. The latter managed a touch to find Cummings, who produced a left-footed finish from point-blank range.
Mohun Bagan doubled the lead in the 35th minute. Petratos made the most of a Liston Colaco assist to find the Punjab net. The host could have added one more, but centre-back Victor Yuste saw his grounder on a Petratos save by the Punjab goalkeeper Kiran Limboo.
The visitor pulled one back early in the second half through Majcen, who scored an opportunistic goal in the 53rd minute. The Slovenian striker snapped up a sloppy back pass from Glan Martins to put it past the Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Vishal Kaith, raising hopes of a fightback in the Punjab ranks.
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Mohun Bagan, which appeared to be relaxing on the two-goal cushion, was awakened by the Majcen goal.
Ferrando introduced Manvir in the 62nd minute to augment the attack, and the towering forward took the match beyond Punjab’s reach with a beautiful flick to send home a Petratos cross.
Punjab made a lot of attacking moves after the break but could not manage enough inside the box to unsettle the Mohun Bagan defence except for once.
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