Bagan start I-League title defence with win

Kolkata, Jan 9 (IANS) Defending champions Mohun Bagan made easy work of newcomers Aizawl Football Club to win the inaugural match of the new I-League season 3-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Saturday.

Bagan’s newest recruit, Trinidadian marksman Cornell Glen scored a brace and striker Balwant Singh netted the other. Defender Pritam Kotal scored an own-goal to get Aizawl FC on the score sheet.

The champions got off to an explosive start with Glen creating opportunities from the outset. He grabbed the opener (fifth minute) for his team by slotting the ball home after receiving it from the left flank.

The early jolt was a setback for the visitors and the game lost its tempo for a few minutes. Aizwal regrouped and tried to get the equaliser.

Kotal helped them in the 17th minute as he only managed to find the back of his own net in an attempt to clear a shot from rival striker Alfred Jaryan.

But Aizawl’s joy was short lived as the ‘Mariners’ poured forward and scored their second of the evening with Glen striking once again in the 22nd minute.

It was a classic counter-attack goal. Balwant darted forward with the ball from the left and then found Glen with a precise pass. The burly striker twisted, turned and then hammered the ball past the Aizawl custodian.

At the 29th minute mark it was Balwant’s turn to earn his reward. The striker once again used his blistering pace to run past defenders and then found the bottom corner of the net with a crisp right-footer. At half time Bagan led 3-1.

After the restart, Bagan relied more on their defence and there was a reluctance to push forward. It nearly cost them in the 52nd minute as defender Kingshuk Debnath almost produced another own-goal. His clearance just fizzed wide of his own citadel.

Three minutes later three Bagan defenders were pressed into action for clearing a danger.

The visitors tried hard in the last few minutes with efforts grazing the post and a few free-kicks but the Bagan defence did not give way.

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