Led by a brilliant Luka Majcen, RoundGlass Punjab FC banished the memories of their previous game to emphatically beat Mohammedan Sporting Club 4-0 in their I-League match at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan on Sunday.
In the process, they also became the first side to win a game in Kolkata against the hosts.
The form guide suggested the home side would have the edge going into the clash. Early into the encounter, Mohammedan not just dominated possession but also created meaningful attacks into the final third that kept the visitors' defence on the edge, as per a press release from the I-League.
In the opening quarter of an hour, Kiran Limbu was forced to come and command his box more frequently than he would have liked, with Kean Lewis and Sekh Sahil constantly dropping crosses in for Marcus Joseph to attack.
The difference though was Luka Majcen. The Slovenian is a physical presence in the box and among the best strikers in the league, who can often create something out of nothing. For Punjab's opening two goals he did precisely that.
The first came off an innocuous-looking attack, with Chencho Gyeltshen playing Brandon Vanlalremdika on the left wing into space. Brandon cut back and lifted a hopeful cross into the box towards the far post, with Majcen waiting. Instead of taking a header on goal, Majcen cushioned it back, into the path of an onrushing Juan Mera, who swept in a first-time volley to spark celebrations.
Mohammedan had a chance of their own soon after, and it took some acrobatic saves from Kiran Limbu to ensure Punjab held the lead. The Nepalese goalkeeper pulled off one of the saves of the season, to palm Faiaz's shot from six yards, away.
If the first of Punjab's goals was a team effort, the second was pure individual genius, with Majcen picking up the ball on the left of the box, cutting it to his right foot before curling it into the far corner and over Sankar Roy's diving palms. Punjab went into the break leading by two goals.
Kibu Vicuna's halftime changes brought some urgency to the home side's play but Punjab were ruthless and clinical, punishing them for every misstep. The third goal came after some pinball in the six-yard box from a Punjab free kick. The loose ball fell to Majcen two yards from the goal and he graciously accepted the gift.
With 15 minutes to go and Mohammedan looking lost, Punjab scored a fourth to add a gloss to a brilliant performance. Mera doubled up on his own tally for the game, running through a porous Mohammedan defence before letting fly from 20 yards. His teammates fell upon him in glee as it hit the net.
In the last ten minutes, Majcen found more ways to demonstrate his impact on the game. This time, the Slovenian was at the other end of the pitch, in front of his own goal, heading a Murzaev shot from the goal line on to the crossbar. He preserved the clean sheet as Punjab rose to the top of the table. (ANI)