Mohun Bagan win, make AFC Cup group stage

India’s Mohun Bagan defeated Club Valencia from the Maldives 4-1 (5-2 aggregate) in the South Zone AFC Cup playoff second leg on Tuesday at Rabindra Sarobar Stadium to reach the group stage. 

Three goals by Jeje Lalpekhlua and another by playmaker Sony Norde was enough for the victory even though Club Valencia pulled a goal back through striker Godfrey West Omodu early in the second half.

The result means the Indian side will join Group E with the already qualified, Bengaluru FC from India, Maziya Sports and Recreation Club of the Maldives and Dakar's Abahani Limited. 

The match began with the home side grabbing the lead in the second minute when Prabir Das's corner kick found Jeje, who hammered a shot hitting the hand of Usam and a penalty was awarded by the referee, which Jeje scored past goalkeeper Mohamed Faisal making it 1-0. 

In the 24th minute, the Indian side should have been two goals up when Norde dribbled past four defenders setting up Balwant Singh who failed to even test the keeper with his attempt.

Just before half-time, Mohun went ahead 2-0, when Jeje grabbed his second goal of the match after his shot off a Balwant cross hit the bar before going into the goal to make it 2-0. 

Early in the second half, Norde got close to scoring when his shot went narrowly wide of the post after latching onto a quality pass from Eduardo.

Minutes later, Balwant missed a great opportunity to increase the lead when a decent pass from the right found him unmarked in the box but his poor attempt was saved easily by Faisal in goal. 

Then in the 52nd minute, Valencia pulled a goal back when Nigerian striker Omodu ran onto a long ball and hammered a shot that beat in Debjit goal to make the score 2-1. 

Then in the 60th minute, Valencia could have equalised when the ball found Rilwan on the left with space but he missed his shot and should have done better.

The second half was full of chances as striker Balwant missed out scoring again when Prabir sent in a cross from the right and he and everyone else missed the ball in the 73rd minute. 

Jeje scored his third in the match in the 82nd minute when he connected with a diving header from a cross by Prabir to make it 3-1. 

Three minutes from time, Norde nailed the fourth goal with a powerful angled shot after being fed a quality pass by Katsumi to make the score 4-1 (5-2 on aggregate) and a place in the group stages of the tournament.

And in the other AFC Cup playoff match played on Tuesday, Kyrgyzstan's FC Dordoi are through to group stage after drawing 1-1 with Tajikistan side FC Hosilot, winning 2-1 on aggregate, to join Tajik champions FC Istiklol, Altyn Asyr FC of Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan's FC Alay in Group D.

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