AIFF Media Team
NEW DELHI: ATK Mohun Bagan sealed their spot in the Inter Zone Playoff Semi-finals of the 2021 AFC Cup, after securing a 1-1 draw against Bashundhara Kings of Bangladesh, at the National Football Stadium in Male, Maldives, on Tuesday, August 24, 2021.
The Green and Maroons went into the match with six points from two matches, having defeated Bengaluru FC (2-0) and Maziya Sports & Recreation (3-1). However, things didn’t go as per the plan for the Indian outfit, when Jonathan Fernandes put Bashundhara ahead in the 28th minute.
The Mariners pressed on for an equaliser, and nearly found it, when David Williams weaved his way past a couple of defenders inside the Bashundhara box and just as he was closed down by opposition keeper Anisur Rahman, he squared the ball to teammate Liston Colaco. However, Colaco’s shot went wide, with an empty goal in front of him.
With minutes left for the half-time break, Bashundhara’s Sushanto Tripura was given his marching orders for a rough challenge, handing the Mariners the extra man advantage for the second half.
The Green and Maroons probed and prodded for some time, and finally found the equaliser around the hour mark. In the 62nd minute, Liston Colaco made amends for his earlier error, weaving his way into the opposition box, before squaring the ball to David Williams, who coolly slotted it into the back of the net.
While Bashundhara did mount a late charge with the clock running down in the second half, the extra man advantage played into the hands of the Mariners, as they held on to secure their progression to the knockout rounds.
ATK Mohun Bagan will now make their way into the Inter Zone Playoff Semi-final, where they are set to face off against the winners of the Central Asia Zonal Final match between FC Nasaf Qarshi (Uzbekistan) and Ahal FC (Turkmenistan).
Bengaluru FC bow out with big win
In the second match on Tuesday, Bengaluru FC ran out comfortable 6-2 winners against Maziya Sports and Recreation of Maldives to end their AFC Cup 2021 campaign on a winning note.
They started in perfect fashion as Udanta Singh headed home the first goal in the 6th minute itself, before Cleiton Silva pounced on an error in the 19th minute to extend Bengaluru's lead.
The Blues went into the break with a three-goal cushion as Leon Augustine added a third in the 36th minute.
Maziya scored in the 67th and 82nd minutes through Hamza Mohamed and Abdulla Asadhulla respectively. However, a strike from youngster Sivasakthi Narayanan in the 70th minute and a late brace from substitute Bidyashagar Singh (85', 90') ensured that Bengaluru's lead was never in danger as they ended their campaign with a resounding 6-2 win.