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AFC Cup 2017: Mohun Bagan 4-1 Club Valencia: Jeje leads the charge as the Mariners through to group stages logo 28-02-2017
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Mohun Bagan managed to secure promotion from their 2017 AFC Cup South Zone play-off against Maldivian side Club Valencia with a 4-1 (5-2 on aggregate) win at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium on Tuesday.

The hosts rode a hat-trick from Jeje Lalpekhlua (2', 45', 82') and a goal from Sony Norde (87') to ensure their qualification to the group stages. Godfrey Omodu scored the only goal for the away side in the 52nd minute.

Sanjoy Sen gave starts to Sony Norde and Eduardo Fereira while Balwant Singh and Jeje Lalpekhlua were the strikers upfront. Youngster Sarthak Golui was given a rare start at right back with Pritam Kotal on the bench.

Ahmed Mujuthaba meanwhile had Godfrey Omodu upfront supported behind by Ahmed Rilwan. Chizi Kaka helmed the defense besides skipper Shafiu Ahmed.

The match began like the first leg with Mohun Bagan surging into the lead in the very first minute. Prabir Das's corner reached Jeje Lalpekhlua whose shot was inexplicably handled by Usam. The referee had no hesitation as he pointed to the spot.

Jeje stepped up and buried the spot kick giving Mohamed Faisal no chance.

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In the 24th minute, Sony Norde showed tremendous close control as he drifted past four players before setting it up on a platter for Balwant Singh only to see the striker fail to test Faisal in goal.

Just before the half time break, Jeje made it 2-0 for the Mariners. Balwant Singh initiated the break and sent in a delightful cross which saw Jeje entangled with Saleem but the shot struck the crossbar before sailing into the goal.

Just after the break, it was Sony who missed a chance to get his name on the scoresheet. Eduardo played a lovely diagonal out of defense for Sony to run onto. The Haitian managed to beat his marker but failed to find the far corner as his shot went narrowly wide.

Three minutes later, Sony and Jeje exchanged passes before Bagan's left winger found Balwant unmarked in the box. The striker somehow took his time as he took an extra touch and saw his shot harmlessly collected by Faisal in goal.

Valencia secured a goal through Omodu much to Mohun Bagan's chagrin. The striker ran onto a hopeful long ball as he positioned himself perfectly in between Anas Edathodika and Eduardo. He finished it off equally well with a piledriver of an effort that gave Debjit no chance.

Valencia could have had the equaliser at the hour mark but Rilwan completely scuffed his shot after being completely free down the left. The rebound almost fell to Omodu but Eduardo pulled out a last ditch tackle to deny him space for a shot.

In the 73rd minute Balwant was guilty of missing yet another gilt edged chance after Prabir delivered a perfect cross from the right. The striker failed to get contact as the ball seemed to have eluded everyone in the box.

Balwant continued his horror show in front of goal as merely four minutes later Katsumi and Jeje combined delightfully to find a free Balwant at the far post only to see him sky it from touching distance.

Jeje saved the blushes as he finally completed his hat-trick in the 82nd minute. Katsumi and Prabir combined again and Prabir's cross was met by a brilliant diving header from the Pailan Arrows man.

Three minutes from time, Sony added the icing on the cake and deservedly so. Katsumi deftly slid a pass down the left for Sony to run into and bury the ball in the far corner with a powerful angled drive.

The win sees Mohun Bagan progress to Group E of the AFC Cup where they will meet Bengaluru FC, Maziya and Dhaka Abahani.

Their next AFC Cup encounter sees them tee up against familiar foes, Bengaluru away from home.

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