Mohun Began reaches AFC cup pre-quarter despite defeat to South China AA
South China AA beat an already qualified second string Mohun Bagan side 3-0 in an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup encounter to progress to the last-16 stage of the competition.
Mohun Bagan had already qualified for the pre quarter-finals after emerging as leaders of Group G. They finished with 11 points from six games, with three wins and one defeat.
South China are the second team to qualify from the group with 9 points from six outings.
Strikes from Law Hiu Chung (19), Ryan Griffiths (24) and Mahama Awal (33) sealed the deal for the visitors who had lost the first leg 0-4.
Mohun Bagan rested several of their regulars. But started off on a strong note and dominated early possession.
Subhash Singh could have helped them get a lead but his strong shot in the 14th minute fizzed past the post.
The visitors then knit an attack of their own and Law pounced upon the opportunity which was presented to him.
It was Awal who tore down the right beating his marker and sent a low cross in. All Law had to do was get his foot to it and he obliged.
Barely had Mohun Bagan recovered when Griffiths strike jolted them again. This was a tap in too as the hosts’ defence was caught napping.
The home team seemed to lose the plot after the double shock and South China took advantage of it again.
Awal got lucky in the 33rd minute as his strike took a deflection and looped over the Mohun Bagan keeper Arnab Das Sharma. The goal gave South China a 3-0 lead at halftime.
Mohun Bagan looked brighter after the restart, but whenever they pushed upfront, South China tried hitting them on the counter.
Jeje Lalpekhlua tried hard to bring back his side into the contest and almost pulled one back but his strong right footer was kept out by rival custodian Tsang Man Fai.
The visitors had their chance to grab a fourth a little while later but Griffiths was denied by an onrushing Arnab.
At the last minute, Kean Lewis too had a shot for Bagan but his attempt flew wide.
At Johor Baru in Malaysia, AFC Cup holders and Group H winners Johor Darul Ta’zim cruised into the Round of 16 with a 3-0 victory over second placed Bengaluru FC on Wednesday.
With the win, Johor completed a perfect record of six wins in six games for the Malaysian champions.
After a goalless first half that saw plenty of effort from the visitors, momentum switched as Safee Sali hit the woodwork on the 54th minute before substitute Safiq Rahim opened the scoring with his seventh goal of the tournament 15 minutes later.
Fellow Malaysia international Safee then doubled the lead with 12 minutes of the tie remaining before Shakir Shaari’s confidently dispatched stoppage time penalty saw them become comfortable winners.