AFC Cup: Mohun Bagan, Bengaluru FC confirm knockout round berths

I-League outfits Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC have secored berths in the knock-out stage of the AFC Cup after contrasting results on Wednesday.

AFC Cup: Mohun Bagan, Bengaluru FC confirm knockout round berths

Bengaluru: I-League outfits Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC have secored berths in the knock-out stage of the AFC Cup after contrasting results on Wednesday.

Bengaluru FC rode on Egueson Lyngdoh and Kim Song Yong's strikes to defeat Lao Toyota 2-1 and storm into the knockout stage of the AFC Cup at Sree Kanteerava Stadium here today.

Lyngdoh and Kim scored in the 45th and 60th minutes respectively, while Homa scored the lone goal for the visitors in the 67th minute.

The Ashley Westwood's boys were pumped up to bag the three points and played for a win right from the word go as they came into the game after winning the I-League title for the second time in three years. They had also won their last AFC Cup match against Myanmar's Ayeyawady United 5-3.

 next only to table toppers Johor Darul Ta'zim, who have bagged 12 points in Group H.

Toyota are placed fourth with three points from five matches, and their hopes of qualifying getting dashed.

Westwood's boys also took revenge against the visitors, who had beaten them 2-1 at Vientiane in Laos.

The entire match was dominated by Bengaluru in front of an almost empty stadium as the hosts created several chances.

The hosts spilled five scoring chances towards the closing stages of the first session, before they could get one past the Toyota goalkeeper.

Compared to the first half, the second half was an even-stevens contest with both sides making some exciting moves.

In the first half, Toyota faced some heat from BFC strikers as they constantly invaded the danger zone.

In the 45th minute, Lyngdoh with the perfect header gave the Blues a lead they deserved.

The goal forced the visitors to come up with something different in the second half to keep their hopes alive in the tournament, but could not in spite of getting a goal.

Bengaluru had another chance in the 50th minute when Lyngdoh seemed to have beaten the off-side trap but referee signalled for a foul on a visiting defender.

The home side consolidated their lead in the 60th minute when skipper Sunil Chhetri set up Kim to do the rest by bulging the net for the second time for the hosts.

The star Toyota footballer from Japan, Homma, reduced the margin for the visitors after he headed home from a free kick.

Earlier today, an injury-time diving header from striker Jeje Lalpekhlua earned Mohun Bagan a 1-1 draw against Maziya Sports & Recreation of Maldives as the Indian side confirmed their knockout round berth with an unbeaten record in Male today.

Mohun Bagan, who came into the penultimate Group C match with a clean slate, were on the verge of tasting their first loss in five games before India international Lalpekhlua's last-gasped strike in the third minute of the stoppage time saved them the blushes.

Maziya Sports & Recreation captain Abdulla Asadhulla had put the home side ahead in the 65th minute at the National Stadium here.

With 11 points from five games, last season I-League champions Mohun Bagan are certain to end at the top of the group, a reflection of their impressive run of form in this continent's second tier club competition. Top two teams from each of the eight groups qualify for the round of 16 stage.

Looking to avenge their 2- 5loss in the first leg in Guwahati, Maziya came closest to breaking the deadlock in a goal-less first half when midfielder Ahmed Imaaz struck the woodwork from a free-kick inside 15 minutes before striker Abdulla opened the scoring for them 20 minutes after restart.

But just as it seemed Maziya were going to hold on for their second straight home victory, Lalpekhlua's diving header at the death claimed a hard-earned point for Mohun Bagan as they remained unbeaten in Group G.

"Our boys tried until the last minute and we managed to score in the last minute. We are top of the group and that was our primary target," said Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen.

"The first half was not good for both teams and second half was okay. But this is my first AFC Cup and I'm happy so far with the results," he said after the match.

Maziya almost opened the scoring just before the quarter-hour mark when Imaaz's low curling free-kick from 20 yards hit the outside of the post.

The visitors had to wait until the 33rd minute for their first chance of note when Raju Gaikwad's cross from the right was met by the head of Pronoy Halder eight yards from goal, but Maziya goalkeeper Imran Mohamed was on hand to push wide.

And the game began to open up as half-time approached and Lalpekhlua spun and fired wide from 10 yards for Mohun Bagan before Abdulla's volley narrowly missed the target at the other end as the score remained goalless.

The hosts went in front in the 65th minute when Abdulla's shot from 15 yards clipped Balmuchu en route to finding the back of the Mohun Bagan net.

Mohun Bagan were unfortunate not to level the scoreline with 10 minutes remaining when Habeeb Yasfaadh cleared off the Maldivian line as Gaikwad's header from substitute Prabir Das' corner seemed destined to find the back of the net.

And the Indians equalised from almost the last play of the game when an inch-perfect cross from Das was met by an equally impressive diving header by Lalpekhlua that found the bottom right corner as he notched his sixth goal of the continental campaign. 

(With PTI inputs)

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