Mohun Bagan outclassed NEROCA FC 6-2 in an I-League 2019-20 clash on Friday at the Kalyani Municipal Corporation Stadium, West Bengal.
Fran Gonzalez netted a hat-trick (10', 24', 25' ), while Fran Morante (13'), Papa Diawara (36') and Alexander Romario (70') were on target for the hosts. Philp Adjah (41') and Subhash Singh (45+2') scored the consolation goals for the visitors.
Kibu Vicuna did not want to change the winning combination as he fielded an unchanged Mohun Bagan starting lineup that defeated Punjab FC 1-0.
Mohun Bagan commanded proceedings right from the beginning and went all guns blazing at NEROCA. They picked up the opening goal in the 10th minute when Fran Gonzalez converted a header off Joseba Beitia’s inch-perfect corner.
The hosts doubled their lead after just three minutes. Beitia’s corner was unconvincingly cleared by Zodingliana which fell to Komron Tursunov. The Tajik forward attempted a shot from the rebound and Fran Morante redirected his feeble attempt into the net with a header.
It was one-way traffic all throughout and the Green and Maroons scored the third goal in the 24th minute with Gonzalez on target for the second time. Beitia received a lay-off from Tursunov and sent a cross inside the box, which the Real Madrid youth product nodded into the net.
The midfielder could have completed his hat-trick much earlier if he had converted from the spot but for a save from Marvin Phillip.
Bagan’s goal-fest continued as they further extended their lead in the 36th minute. VP Suhair and Papa Diawara exchanged a quick give-and-go before Suhair sent a cross with his outstep. The Senegalese forward cushioned down the ball with his chest and found the back of the net with a venomous volley.
The visitors pulled one back in the 41st minute when Philip Adjah scored after receiving a through ball from Subhash Singh.
Gonzalez finally completed his hat-trick at the stroke of half time to increase his team’s tally to five. A flick from Diawara fell kindly for the Spaniard and he caressed the ball home with a simple tap in.
Just seconds before the half time whistle, NEROCA kindles some hopes of a comeback when they scored their second through Subhash Singh, making the most of a complacent Bagan defense.
The orange brigade started the second half on a brighter note after the first half debacle and looked hungry for a quick third goal. In the 60th minute, Adjah dribbled past Morante and attempted a shot that hit the crossbar. Ronald Singh attempted a back volley from the rebound which was destined to go in but for Dhanchandra Singh, who stopped the ball with his hand. The Bagan left-back was immediately sent off, but Adjah failed to make the chance count.
Kibu Vicuna brought in Alexander Romario in the 69th minute and the former Chennai City player scored the sixth goal within seconds after coming on the pitch with a shot that went like a tracer bullet. After conceding the sixth, NEROCA's shoulders had dropped and even a 10-man Bagan had little problem in containing them.
With their biggest win of the season, Mohun Bagan moved a step further to claim their fifth I-League title. The victory today helped them extend their lead to 11 points at the top of the table, and they stand firm with 29 points from 12 matches.