SHILLONG: Mohun Bagan put up splendid performance crushing Shillong Lajong 3-0 in an important away encounter to climb to the third spot in the I-League table.
Dipanda Dicka (30th min), Akram Moghrabi (86th min) and Sheikh Faiaz (89th min) scored the winning goals for the Kolkata giants to leapfrog their arch-rivals to the third spot on the table with 20 points from 12 outings.
Coach Shankarlal Chakraborty opted to hand Azharuddin a start on the right wing whereas he deployed Nikhil Kadam on the wide left.
Mohun Bagan broke the deadlock in the 30th minute with Dicka's brilliant header off a Cameron Watson cross that beat Lajong goalkeeper Lachenpa.
Towards the end of the first half, Lajong came close to the equaliser time and again but eventually, Mohun Bagan maintained their lead.
Mohun Bagan also made their first substitution in the 44th minute with Faiaz replacing Azharuddin.
Lajong's best chance in the first half came in the dying minutes of the first half when Lajong's Samuel Lalmuanpuia sent a volley which would have found the back of the net had it not been put away by an acrobatic save from Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Shilton Paul.
The second half of the game got off to a fast start as both teams headed into the game with renewed energy after the break.
However, Mohun Bagan's earlier goal had given the team the confidence they needed to keep the game in their pocket.
A fast-paced second half did not help the hosts as they tried desperately to gain an equalizer which only resulted in a back and forth game with their determined opponents.
The Cote D'Ivoire-based striker Koffi could have found the back of the net but his mistimed header went astray, much to the dismay of the Lajong supporters.
However, the dying minutes of the game saw back-to-back goals from the visitors as they game swung decisively in their favour.
Akram doubled their lead in the 86th minute with a calm finish after the ball was dished out to him on a platter by Raynier Fernandes, who replaced Watson.
Any hopes that the hosts harboured of salvaging a point was blown away three minutes later when Faiaz scored Mohun Bagan's third goal in the 89th minute, which was indeed the nail in the coffin.
Having bagged all three points from Shillong defying all odds, high-flying Mariners will now head to Coimbatore to take on Chennai City on February 7 whereas Lajong will face the league leaders Minerva Punjab FC same day.