Kolkata, September 23: Punjab FC went down fighting 3-1 to defending ISL champions Mohun Bagan Super Giant in their debut match of the Indian Super League 2023-24 season. Luka Majcen scored the first ever goal for Punjab FC in the ISL, after securing the golden boot in last season’s I-League. Jason Cummings, Dimitrios Petratos and Manvir Singh scored for the winners.

Mohun Bagan – 3 (Cummings 10’, Petratos 36’, Manvir 64’)                        Punjab FC           – 1 (Luka 53’)

Punjab FC Head Coach Staikos Vergetis named a strong lineup for his debut match in ISL, lining up in a 4-3-3 formation. Kiran Kumar Limbu started in goal while Nikhil Prabhu and Melroy Assisi were the central defenders. Khaimingthang Lhungdim and Mohammed Salah were the wingbacks. Ashis Pradhan,Madih Talal and Brandon Vanlalremdika started in midfield and captain Luka Majcen headed the attack with Juan Mera and Prasanth K Mohan supporting him in the wings. Mohun Bagan Head Coach, Juan Ferrando named a star studded lineup with all the starting names starting in a 3-5-2 formation.

Punjab FC started the match with more energy and did not show any nervousness of playing their first match in the ISL. Juan Mera and Madih Talah looked good with the ball, controlling the possession in midfield along with Brandon Vanlalremdika. Mohun Bagan found the lead in the 10th minute against the run of play. Mohammed Salah lost the ball to Glan Martins who released Ashis Rai on the right. His cut back pass found Sahal Abdul Samad who scuffed his shot which luckily fell into the path of Jason Cummings. The Aussie finished it calmly past Kiran Kumar to give the lead for the hosts. PFC responded well after conceding, but were not lethal going forward. Mohun Bagan were looking dangerous in transitions. The hosts doubled their lead through a beautiful team move. Jason Cummings found Liston Colaco through a defence splitting through ball, who turned and set up the ball seeing the rushing Punjab FC keeper for Dimitrios Petratos who had to just tap inside an empty goal. Kiran Kumar was kept busy in Punjab’s goal as he saved Liston’s and Hector Yuste’s efforts keeping the score line the same at the end of the first half.

Punjab FC started the second half troubling the Mariners defence. Madih Talal’s low cross was deflected into the goal by Prasanth K. Mohan but it went out hitting the side netting. Punjab FC piled on the pressure to the home side as the Shers were looking to come back in the game. Luka Majcen scored Punjab FC’s first ever goal in the ISL in the 53rd minute of the game. Glan Martins played a blind back pass which was pounced by Luka Majcen and he finished past the rushing Mohun Bagan keeper Vishal Kaith. It was a one sided affair as the game was played only in the Mohun Bagan half. Ashis Pradhan found the net from a Juan Mera free kick but it was disallowed for offside. Mohun Bagan again scored against the run of play. Sahal Abdul Samad dodged two defenders with his silky moves and found Petratos whose left footed cross was flicked inside the goal by substitute Manvir Singh past Kiran Kumar for their third goal of the match. Both managers bought in changes to freshen up the action in the pitch. There were no clear cut chances for Punjab FC to comeback in the game as Mohun Bagan’s efforts were all seen off by Kiran Kumar. Mohun Bagan saw off the rest of the game to start their season on a winning note. Even though Punjab FC could not have a positive result from the game, they have impressed everyone in their debut match giving a solid fight to the ISL Champions.

Dimitrios Petratos was the Player of the Match. Punjab FC will face FC Goa in their next game on October 2nd which will be played at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa.


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