RoundGlass Punjab FC were at their ruthless best here at Tau Devi Lal Stadium on Sunday, making mincemeat of wooden-spooners Sudeva Delhi and taking over the Hero I-League top spot from Sreenidi Deccan with an 8-0 victory. They are now on 43 points after 19 matches.
If Hero of the Match Juan Mera’s hat-trick and Luka Majcen’s brace were not proof enough, even substitutes Tekcham Abhishek Singh, Juan Nellar and Maheson Singh got on to the scoreboard, underscoring how one-sided the match was.
Sudeva Delhi’s progress under Sankarlal Chakraborty was undone today by a team that looked like a horde of hungry lions vying for the Hero I-League title. This victory put them in the sole lead, three points clear of Sreenidi, who suffered a shocking 6-4 defeat to Mohammedan Sporting on Friday. But Staikos Verghetis’s boys showed they are a far more organised and motivated lot, with tremendous bench strength.
Anyone can make out from the scoreline that there was not much Sudeva could do. In fact, they had just one shot on target in the entire game, that too, a weak one by Seilenthang Lotjem late in the second half. The only good thing that happened for them was Mera’s left-footer from outside the box hitting the post in the ninth minute.
The way RoundGlass dominated, it is a marvel that they had to wait till the 22nd minute to open the scoring. A minute ago, Luka narrowly failed to put the final touch on Chencho Gyeltshen’s perfect centre from the left. But Mera made a perfect finish from the edge of the box as Brandon Vanlalremdika’s shot was intercepted by a defender. The Spaniard got the rebound and volleyed neatly to the far post, out of Sudeva goalkeeper Priyant Singh’s reach. The floodgates opened.
The Sudeva defenders looked like mannequins seven minutes later, when Ajay Chhetri’s free-kick from the left of the box was headed on to Luka by Hmingthanmawia inside the box. The Slovenian forward is obviously too good to miss from that close. Chakraborty’s defenders went missing once again a couple of minutes later as Mera ran into the box from the right unchallenged. But his shot just missed the far post.
However, he got his second in the 33rd minute. Luka got Rakesh Meitei’s cross from the left flank across the goal, got rid of the defender blocking him with one touch and passed to Mera who was in a more central position. He took it farther to his left to get it away from Sudeva defender Akeem Abioye and found the net with a powerful left-footer.
Sudeva’s players must have been relieved when the halftime whistle blew because the score was already 3-0. For about 20 minutes in the second half, it seemed Chakraborty’s boys would be able to limit the damage. But the introduction of Maheson Singh into RoundGlass’ midfield in the 63rd minute, changed things. He got into the attacking third in the 69th minute and absorbed two central defenders, leaving Luka unmarked. He had no problems accepting Maheson’s pass and putting it past Priyant to make it 4-0.
Luka could not complete his hat-trick, missing a header in the 70th minute but Mera succeeded in doing that five minutes later. It was another defensive error. This time the defender cleared Mohammed Salah’s centre straight to Mera on the edge of the box. He put it in calmly.
It was clear that Chakraborty was not happy with either Priyant’s outing or his communication with defenders. So he replaced him in the 78th minute but it was not only too late but also futile. New goalie Sachin Jha had hardly settled down when Tekcham Abhishek got a through pass from Maheson, and there was nobody to stop his run down the right. It was 6-0 in the blink of an eye.
Juan Carlos Nellar scored in the 84th minute after playing a wall pass outside the box with Mera, it seemed to be the icing on the cake. But Maheson was served with his own plate of dessert just before the final whistle. It was an assist from Mera again. Maheson curled in a right-footer from outside the box to make it 8-0.
AIFF Media Release