Sony Norde stars in Bagan’s come-from-behind win

Mohun Bagan recovered from a shaky start to defeat Abahani Limited, Dhaka, in an AFC Cup Group E match at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium.

Balwant Singh reacts after scoring a goal against Abahani Limited on Tuesday.   -  PTI

Mohun Bagan recovered from a shaky start to register a come-from-behind 3-1 win over Abahani Limited, Dhaka, in an AFC Cup Group E match at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium here on Tuesday. Bagan, which trailed by a goal till the 45th minute, banked on reliable hand Sony Norde to save the blushes and stay alive in the group.

Playing its second match in three days and resting three first-choice defenders did not help Bagan as Abahani mounted pressure through some controlled aggression. Excellent ball possession and steady attacks by Abahani, which produced six corners in the first 11 minutes, kept the Bagan back-line busy. Abahani tasted success when Mohammad Ziban conjured a cross from right and an unmarked Nigerian forward Emeka Onuoha found the mark in the 21st minute.

An off-colour Bagan worked for the equaliser but the solid Abahani defence, showing some fine marking and prompt clearance, denied the home side any opening. The Mariners wasted a fabulous opportunity when Katsumi Yusa, Sony Norde and Balwant Singh had a chance each inside the box but could not convert those in the 27th minute.

A desperate Bagan produced some long balls but had disappointment in store until a superb combined effort helped the host draw parity in injury time. Balwant passed it from the right to Norde inside the box and the Haitian tapped it on to Jeje Lalpekhlua to score from the front of the goal-mouth.

Bagan looked more organised in the second half and took the lead in the 48th minute. Yusa got rid of his marker to send a diagonal pass into the box and Balwant slotted in the left-footer over goalkeeper Sahidul Alam's head to make the green-and-maroon fans happy. Abahani was frustrated to see some of its chances getting wasted.

Bagan pushed hard to get its third. Norde foxed two Abahani defenders inside the box to finally record a goal against his name and virtually seal the issue in the 87th minute.

The result: Mohun Bagan 3 (Jeje Lalpekhlua 45+1, Balwant Singh 48, Sony Norde 87) bt Abahani Ltd 1 (Johnathon Brown 21).