ATK Mohun Bagan progressed to the inter-zone semifinal playoff of the AFC Cup with a 5-2 win over Maziya SC. The Kolkata giants finished as winners of Group D with six points, level with Bashundhara Kings, but progress on account of their superior head to head and goal difference.
ATKMB came into the game with the knowledge that they needed all three points and were gifted the opening goal in the 26th minute. Some excellent pressing from Roy Krishna saw Kiran Chemjong in the Maziya goal forced into a panicked clearance, which fell straight to Joni Kauko on the edge of the box. The Finnish midfielder made no mistake with a composed, curled finish into the net.
ATKMB doubled their lead going into the break, with Kauko netting his second after latching onto a headed flick-on by Manvir Singh. An arrowed finish into the bottom corner followed, with ATKMB in cruise control. Maziya pulled one back seconds before half-time with Tana finding the net from Cornelius Stewart’s pass. Krishna restored ATKMB’s two-goal lead 10 minutes into the second half, tapping home Subhasish Bose’s cross.
The contest was effectively over two minutes later, as Liston Colaco’s in-swinging set piece delivered found Bose in acres of space in the box and the defender nudged it into the net to make it 4-1. Carl McHugh made it 5-1 in the 71st minute, with his deflected effort from the edge of the box trickling into the net.
Tana grabbed his brace with an excellent guided header two minutes later, thus completing the scoring. ATKMB saw out the rest of the game to progress as Group D winners in front of a sizeable crowd at the Salt Lake stadium.
Earlier, Gokulam Kerala were eliminated after suffering a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Bashundhara Kings. Robinho opened the scoring in the 36th minute, with the Bangladeshi league champions going into the break with a 1-0 lead.
Nuha Marong doubled the lead ten minutes into the second half. Gokulam, who needed nothing short of a win to progress, pulled one back through Jourdaine Fletcher in the 75th minute, but were unable to get the two goals they needed in the final 15 minutes of the game.
The I-League champions thus finished third in Group D with three points, after defeating ATK Mohun Bagan 4-2 in their debut AFC contest. ATKMB will face the winners of Group J, featuring Eastern SC, Chao Pak Kei, Tainan City and Lee Man FC, in the inter-zone semifinal playoff.