The Mariners kept their qualifications hope alive with the win.

In a match delayed for nearly an hour due to a heavy storm, the weather did nothing to impede Liston Colaco, who scored twice before half-time, then added a third after the interval to take his tally in the AFC Cup to four goals in two matches. The win means ATK Mohun Bagan joins Bashundhara Kings on three points from two matches, with both sides still in contention heading into Tuesday’s crucial Matchday Three.

Having lost against Gokulam Kerala on Wednesday, ATK Mohun Bagan returned to Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium knowing another defeat would extinguish their knockout stage hopes, while Bashundhara Kings were hopeful building on a 1-0 win against Maziya, but inclement weather proved the most difficult opponents for both teams early on. 

The heavens opened virtually as soon as the match kicked off, with play lasting just over 10 minutes before the thunderstorm was deemed too dangerous for play to continue, and the players leaving the pitch for an extended period before the match finally resumed.

The slippery conditions did neither side many favours when the action did restart, but Bishwanath Ghosh had only himself to blame when his error led to the opening goal, with the Bashundhara defender’s botched attempt at a clearance allowing Colaco to ease the ball home from no more than six yards in the 25th minute. 

The Mariners’ second goal, scored nine minutes later, was much easier on the eye, with Joni Kauko’s defence-splitting pass sending Colaco through on goal before the in-form forward skilfully rounded goalkeeper Ansiur Rahman and rolled the ball into the empty net to double his tally. 

Bashundhara were unable to fire in front of goal in the first half, but the Bangladeshi side had edged possession, and it took a fine low save from Arsh Anwer to keep them from getting back into the game through Yeasin Arafat’s strike shortly after the interval.

That was a mere interruption to the Colaco show, however, and ATK Mohun Bagan’s star man capitalised on more sloppy defending to clinically swipe home his third goal of the evening following Manvir Singh’s low cross from the right in the 53rd minute. 

The visitors continued to push for goals of their own, but their evening went from bad to worse with 13 minutes remaining, when substitute David Williams latched onto Subhasish Bose’s low cross, swivelled clear of two defenders, and hammered the ball high into the net from nine yards to cap a crucial win.

ATK Mohun Bagan can now look ahead to Tuesday’s potentially decisive game against Maziya with more confidence, while Bashundhara too retain a fighting chance going into the final day.

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