Mumbai Tigers kicked off its Durand Cup campaign in style as it thrashed Assam Regimental Centre 4-0 in a Group I fixture at the Ambedkar Stadium on Tuesday.
Striker Bikash Jairu’s brace, along with second-half goals from M. Pradeep and Abhishek Ambekar, ensured ARC never really challenged the I-League second division side.
Set up in a 4-5-1 formation with Jairu leading the line, the Tigers’ offense excelled largely due to Royston D’Souza’s fine performance.
The playmaker orchestrated many successful forays and his defence-splitting passes were a constant threat.
Jairu struck from close range in the 33rd minute to give Tigers the lead and the advantage was doubled three minutes before the hour mark.
Pradeep played a fabulous one-two with Jairu on the edge of the box before going past the ’keeper to finish the move.
Two goals in the final quarter boosted the Tigers’ goal difference, which may prove to be crucial in the final equation.
Easy for Kalighat
Later, Kalighat Milan Sangha overcame a doughty Army Green side to post a comfortable 4-1 win in Group III.
Nigerian forward Joel Sunday was the star for the Bengal team as he scored twice, in addition to providing a regular threat by drifting into wide positions.
Sunday’s ability to burst into the box from the flanks caused much headache to the army defence.
The forward’s brilliance shone through in the 75th minute when he cut into the penalty area, dribbled past two defenders and struck a left-footed shot into the far corner.
A long-range effort by Kalighat’s Pahoom Biswas had been cancelled out by Nigil Raj early in the second half. Parity remained for only three minutes though, as Sunday headed home from inside the six-yard box.
After the Nigerian’s stunning strike 15 minutes from normal time, Shuvojit Hazra sealed victory in the 77th minute.
Mumbai Tigers 4 (Bikash Jairu 33, 81, M. Pradeep 57, Abhishek Ambekar 90+2) bt Assam Regimental Centre 0; Kalighat Milan Sangha 4 (Pahoom Biswas 10, Joel Sunday 50 & 75, Shuvojit Hazra 77) bt Army Green 1 (Nigil Raj 47).