Next Gen Cup: RF Young Champs sign off with thumping win over ATK Mohun Bagan
This is the first hat-trick of the Next Gen Cup 2023.
Alex Kontoujam scored a perfect hat-trick as Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC) defeated ATK Mohun Bagan 4-0 in their final fixture of the Reliance Foundation presents Premier League Next Gen Cup in Navi Mumbai tonight.
RFYC rounded off their campaign with a flawless victory and a lot of credit for the same goes to Kontoujam, who relentlessly ran through the Mariners’ defence and found the back of the net once in the first half and twice in the second.
RFYC broke the deadlock with an excellent counter-attack in the 10th minute. They recovered possession in the inner channel of the left flank and broke the ATK Mohun Bagan midfield with an incisive vertical pass. Kontoujam received the ball deftly near the 18-yard box and curled in a fantastic finish on the bottom right corner to get the crucial first lead in the favour of his team.
The team from Kolkata tried to gather their momentum thereafter. The duo of Loitongbam Taison Singh and Suhail Ahmed Bhat interlinked multiple times in the frontline in order to find a way through the RFYC defence. However, the Arata Izumi-coached side was positioned to perfection as they threatened breaking into a counter as soon as they won the ball back deep in their own half.
There appeared to be a clear shift in their tactical setup in this game and that reflected with the relative ease with which they were able to close out the contest in the second half. Kontoujam floated across the final third seamlessly, as he regularly made inroads into the ATK Mohun Bagan defence from either flanks. This culminated with him getting his second goal of the night from the right wing in the 51st minute.
RFYC had built up a free-flowing offensive move as they switched the ball on both ends of the pitch extremely well. The forward received a near perfect pass as he cut into the box and then finished the move off with a finish into the bottom left corner from his left foot. RFYC didn’t budge and kept on building pressure thereafter.
They tested the ATK Mohun Bagan defence from all quarters and pushed players ahead in quest of another goal that could pretty much seal the fate of the game in their favour. Fortunately for them, Izumi’s team won a spot-kick in the 58th minute and Kontoujam stepped up to take the shot. The Mariners’ goalkeeper Syed Zahid Hussain dived in the wrong direction as the young RFYC forward brought up a memorable hat-trick. Later, RFYC substitute Avaneesh Kamath nodded in an accurate header in the 65th minute to ensure that his team brought curtains down to their run in this tournament with an impressive two victories in four matches.
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