Mohun Bagan packed a punch in a 3-1 drubbing of Singaporean heavyweights Tampines Rovers to become the first Indian club to win a match in the AFC Champions League qualifier at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan here today.
Jeje Lalpekhula (fifth minute), Cornell Glen (41st) and Katsumi Yusa (83rd) scored for Mohun Bagan while Yasir Hanapi struck the lone goal for Tampines Rovers in the 43rd minute.
Mohun Bagan’s Haitian recruit Norde made the difference on a day Cornell Glen had a miserable run that included missing a penalty.
Trailing 1-2, the Singapore League runners-up started strongly in the second-half but before they could bring on the equaliser and take the match to extra time, Mohun Bagan’s Japanese recruit Katsumi Yusa confirmed their tickets to China with his 83rd minute strike from Sony Norde’s corner.
Norde set up both Jeje and Katsumi as the I-League champions today created history by becoming the first team to win a match in the ACL.
Previously, Dempo (2009, 2011), Churchill Brothers (2010), Pune FC (2014) and Bengaluru FC (2015) made exits in the first qualifying round.
Mohun Bagan will now travel to Chinese city Jinan to clash against Shandong Luneng FC in the Preliminary Stage 2 on February 2.
Shandong Luneng FC are placed third in the Chinese Super League and it will be a real challenge for Mohun Bagan to play in Jinan where the temperature is sub-zero.
Four teams will make the cut from Preliminary Stage 2 to the East Zone play-off. 16 teams in two groups of East and West will lock horns in the Playoff Stage to determine the eight qualifiers for the Group Stage of the ACL.
This is also Mohun Bagan’s first win against the Singaporean outfit against whom they drew at home and lost away in the AFC Cup in 2007.
Coach Sanjoy Sen chose to start with the in-form India forward Jeje and his spirited runs combined with Cornell Glen and Sony Norde’s pace unsettled ‘The Stags’ defence early on.
The Mizoram forward, who was benched in their 1-1 draw in the I-League derby versus East Bengal, handed Mohun Bagan an early lead putting the ball to the far post in what was a result of a brilliant move from Norde.
The Haitian cleverly tackled the Singaporean outfit’s South Korean recruit Kwon Jun from the left before giving a backpass to Dhanachandra who crossed it to Jeje for their rousing start in front of a sparse crowd in the gigantic stadium.
What followed was a sheer dominance from Mohun Bagan as Norde toyed with ‘The Stags’ defence.
Mohun Bagan, however, missed a penalty as well as a couple of golden opportunities as they held their slender lead before Glen made it 2-0.
It was Norde who missed a long ranger in the 21st minute before Glen let the team down six minutes later after being set up brilliantly by Katsumi from the right.
With Tampines Rovers defender fumbling, Yusa’s cross was neatly received by the Trinidadian shot it over the bar.
Continuing his miserable run, Glen missed to convert from the spot as he shot straight into the hands of Tampines Rovers goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud in the 34th minute.