The youngest team in the Hero Super Cup, Shillong Lajong FC displayed a stunning performance and came back from two goals down to beat Indian Super League semi-finalist, Pune City, 3-2 in their Hero Super Cup match at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar today.
The ground condition in Bhubaneshwar wasn’t the best on offer for the match due to the heavy rains. Nevertheless, Pune City danger men, Marcelinho and Lucca were leading the attack well. The first chance of the match fell to Jonathan Lucca in the 8th minute, who managed to turn at the edge of the box and placed the ball with his left foot, but Lajong Keeper Nidhin, did well to parry it away for a corner. In the 12th minute, a good build up play by Koffi and Redeem found Sheen with space inside the box but the latter’s shot was weak and didn’t trouble the keeper.
Pune City eventually took the lead in the 17th minute when Jonathan Lucca took a perfect free kick to the top left corner. Marcelinho doubled the lead in the 22nd minute, after he curled the ball over the keeper after an assist from Diego Carlos. Two great goals in the span of 5 minutes by the ISL side, Pune City.
Lajong’s effort to get back in the game paid off when Abdoulaye Koffi received the ball inside the box from Odafin and made no mistake putting it past the keeper to pull one back for Lajong in the 29th minute. Despite conceding a goal, Pune City’s captain Marcelinho kept threatening in front but Lajong’s defence worked hard not to concede another goal. Just before half time, Pune City had a chance to score their third goal but Ashique’s cheeky attempt to lob the goalkeeper wasn’t successful.
In the second half, it was Ashique again who missed a sitter in the 49th minute from a few yards away from goal. Pune were denied two back to back chances in the 55th and 57th minute by Nidhin Lal who made two stunning saves keeping the score line at 2-1.
But Lajong made sure that it didn’t stay long as their Academy Product Rakesh Pradhan overlapped on the left wing and equalised in the 61st minute after an assist by Sheen Sohktung. This is Rakesh’s first ever senior team goal for Lajong after helping his side level at 2-2.
The young Lajong side enjoyed a good spell of attack as Pune City’s dominance seemed to diminish. Koffi was presented a great opportunity in the 68th minute to give Lajong the lead but his shot from the edge of the box went straight to the keeper. In the final quarter of the match, it was Pune City pushing in attack while Lajong looked dangerous on the counter. Lajong’s perseverance paid off in the 91st minute after Koffi was released inside the box and the keeper fouled him, leading to a penalty. Lajong Skipper, Samuel Lalmuanpuia stepped up and slotted a powerful shot to beat Vishal Kaith in the 92nd minute and gave Lajong a 2-3 lead. A frustrated Marcelinho was sent on the 95th minute after an off the ball foul on Samuel Lalmuanpuia. The referee blew the final whistle after over seven minutes of extra time and Lajong have therefore booked a place in the quarter final of the Hero Super Cup.
Samuel Lalmuanpuia was awarded the Hero of the Match for his brilliant performance. Lajong will play Mohun Bagan in the quarter final of the Hero Super Cup on 11th April.