Defending Hero Federation Cup Champions Mohun Bagan began their title defence with a 4-0 win over DSK Shivajians in the ongoing 38th edition of the Hero Fed Cup at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack, Odisha today.
A Balwant Singh brace (24’, 71’) and a goal by Darryl Duffy header (65’) and Jeje (90+ 2’) proved enough for Sanjoy Sen’s men to start their Hero Federation Cup campaign with a win. The Mariners go top of Group A, despite being level on points with JSW Bengaluru FC (3 points each), but edging them in goal difference.
It was a cautious beginning to the match by both teams as neither committed bodies in the attack in scare of opening up their own defence and hence the match culminated in the midfield. Chances in the opening minutes were rare for both sides, even after Mohun Bagan dominated possession.
Darryl Duffy produced a sensational half-volley after Katsumi Yusa had assisted him in the attempt, but the venomous shot went past the goal in the 13th minute. DSK Shivajians wary of Mohun Bagan’s attacking threat played deep and constructed the midfield.
Sony Norde proved to be a threat from the flanks and in the 24th minute, his cross for Balwant Singh gave Bagan the lead. Balwant connected with a precise header to send the ball home, giving Mariners a solitary goal lead. The half-time scoreline read 1-0.
The DSK attack looked more comfortable going ahead in the second half. Halicharan from the wings and Sanju Pradhan from the midfield added to the numbers upfront but an experienced Bagan defence line saw all the dangers away with acumen. Even Katsumi Yusa dropped back to do the dirty work and beef up the defensive numbers for Bagan.
In the 52nd minute, Sony Norde initiated a counter attack for the Mariners from the wings. The Haitian cut in from the left flank and released a curling shot that went inches past the goal.
Eight minutes later Balwant failed to connect on a Sehnaj Singh cross from the right flank, had he connected it would easily have gone into the net.
DSK tried to breach the Bagan defence line and chances for Dave Roger’s side came. But from distance. Quero’s shot in the 63rd minute went over the bar as the Mariners restricted DSK to shooting from outside the box.
In the 65th minute, Darryl Duffy headed the ball home from a Sony Norde corner after the DSK defence line failed to clear the ball to double the Mariner’s lead. A minute later, Sony Norde’s shot from inside the box, with no real pressure, went over the bar.
Balwant Singh added more gloss to the scoreline as he scored from outside of the box in the 71st minute to triple Mohun Bagan’s lead.
DSK was kept at bay by the Mariner’s defence and Jeje got on the scoresheet in the dying embers of the match as at the end of time the scoreline read 4-0 in Mohun Bagan’s favour.