A late goal from Yunos Afiq in extra time gave Tampines Rovers a 2-1 win over Mohun Bagan in their round of 16 clash in Guwahati on Tuesday. Bagan, who were without Sony Norde and Katsumi Yusa, fell behind to Webb's opener in the 2nd half, before Bikramjit equalized to take the match to extra time.
Mohun Bagan have been in brilliant form off-late. They scored five goals against newly crowned I-League champions Bengaluru FC in their last league game and displayed similar attacking prowess throughout their Fed Cup winning campaign, where they thumped Aizawl FC 5-0 in the final. However, the Kolkata-based club had to deal with the absence of two of their key players in this AFC Cup round of 16 clash. Midfield general Katsumi Yusa missed out with an injury, while Sony Norde was unavailable for selection due to international duty.
Their opponents, Tampines Rovers, had a very interesting name in their lineup—a certain Jermain Pennant. The 33-year-old winger had played for clubs like Arsenal and Liverpool and can even boast of an appearance in the final of the Champions League. The Englishman stamped his class early on in the match and forced Arnab to make a brilliant save to his right to keep out his free-kick.
Mohun Bagan were trying to build from the back, but most of their moves broke down in the final third. However, they did come close to taking a lead in the 16th minute, when Jeje's header from a corner was cleared off the line by Mukhtar.
Jermaine Pennant kept torturing the Bagan defence at the other end. He drilled in a host of early crosses from the wings, with Fazrul Nawaz and Jordan Webb missing a couple of gilt-edged chances. Somehow Bagan managed to keep their clean sheet intact at halftime, they received a lucky break at the start of the second half.
Shakhir Hamzah received his second yellow of the match after a rash challenge and he it was early showers for him. The Singapore-based club were down by a man, with nearly 40 minutes of normal time still left to play at that point.
However, 10-man Tampines stunned Bagan to take the lead in the 63rd minute and it was a freak goal to say the least. Jordan Webb drilled in a cross from the right wing and somehow the cross eluded Arnab in goal and went into the back of the net to make it 1-0.
Mohun Bagan did not take long to respond to the opener though, as Bikramjit scored from an absolute screamer. The midfielder unleashed a pilediver from 35-yards-out and it nearly tore the net apart, as it went past the hapless Tampines goalkeeper.
Despite their numerical advantage, Bagan failed to score the all-important winner in the closing stages of the game with both the teams going for the jugular. Eventually, the match went into extra time, with both the teams tied at 1-1.
Neither of the teams exerted themselves in the first half of the extra time with both set of players feeling the effect of exhaustion. Things got worse for Bagan in the second half when Bikramjit went off the pitch with an injury, and just three minutes later the Singapore-based club took the lead through Afiq Yunos. Pennant was at the heart of the move once again, and it was his pass from a set-piece which was finished off emphatically by the Tampines defender.
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