Mohun Bagan blank out Club Valencia 4-1 at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium to advance to the group stages. . .

Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan thrashed their Maldivian counterparts Club Valencia by a staggering 4-1 scoreline in the AFC Cup Qualifier Second Leg at Rabindra Sarobar Stadium on Tuesday. In doing so, they made it through to the group stage of the competition and join Bengaluru FC as the second Indian team in the competition.

As expected, the Mariners started the match with an attacking display early on, cornering their opponents and were given a penalty in the first wave of attacks. Bagan star striker Jeje Lalpekhlua went on to take the penalty and scored the first goal of the match in the first few minutes itself.

Match Highlights: Mohun Bagan 4-1 Club Valencia

The hosts’ coach Sanjoy Sen rested several key players against the Maldivian club and decided to start youngsters such as Sarthak Golui, Bikramjit Singh and later brought on Sourav Das and Azharuddin Mallick.

The match proved to be a rather physical battle instead of a tactical one, in which Valencia looked to be the inferior side throughout the match. Valencia defenders tried to mark Bagan ace winger Sony Norde on the wings throughout the match yet failed due to the Haitian’s trickery.

Mohun Bagan established a two-goal lead over Valencia in the dying minutes of the first half when a cross from Balwant Singh on the right wing found Valencia defender Saleem’s feet instead of Jeje Lalpekhlua, which in turn went in the top left corner of the net .

Sony Norde failed to register his name onto the scoresheet just before half time when a pinpointed diagonal from Eduardo Ferreira found the Haitian in the opposition box but Norde shot the ball wide.

Valencia came back a different team in the second half, pressing the hosts to their limits often and managing to score a goal in the 52nd minute when Valencia forward Godfrey West Omodu cut through both Anas Edathodika and Eduardo Ferreira and shot the ball in the top right corner of the bars. The Maldivian team started to show character after their first goal and looked dangerous going ahead.

Valencia wasted their fair share of chances throughout the game but the Male-based club came closest to score the double in the 61st minute when Usam sent in a delightful cross intended for Rilwan who failed to put it in the back of the net in a one-on-one situation, shooting the ball wide over the posts.

Balwant Singh continued to be a sore thumb in the frontlines as the veteran striker missed several open chances throughout the match which could have given the Green and Maroons three easy goals.

Sanjoy Sen’s decision of sending Katsumi Yusa in the second half proved to be fruitful in the 82nd minute when the Japanese midfielder found Prabir Das with a through, who in turn sent in a cross which Jeje Lalpekhlua dived to put in the back of the net with a well-placed header.

Sony Norde looked to be lacking finishing abilities throughout the match but the Haitian winger, at last, managed to get on the scorer’s list when Katsumi passed the ball sideways to him, who in turn shot the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

By defeating Club Valencia 4-1 (5-2 in aggregate), Mohun Bagan will now advance to the Group E of the AFC Cup to meet Bengaluru FC, Maziya S&RC and Dhaka Abahani FC, with their next AFC fixture being against last year finalists Bengaluru FC at Sree Kanteerava Stadium.