Kolkata: Jeje Lalpekhlua scored a hat-trick to power heavyweights Mohun Bagan to a thumping 4-1 win over Club Valencia of Maldives in their return leg fixture of the AFC Cup South Zone playoff.
Jeje hit three goals in 2nd, 45th and 82nd minutes while Sony Norde, making a return, also made his presence felt as he netted the ball in the 87th minute. Godfrey West Omodu, who had struck a solitary goal in the first leg, reduced the margin with his 52nd minute strike for the Maldives at the Rabindra Sarovar Stadium here.
Mohun Bagan join Bengaluru FC, Mazia Sports, Recreation of Maldives and Abahani Limited Dhaka in Group E and face the Indian I-League champions in their first match in an away fixture on March 14. Mohun Bagan started the return leg with a bang when Ahmed Usam’s handball inside the box earned them a penalty straightaway in the first minute with Jeje easily slotting it home for an early lead.
Jeje and Sony kept on attacking but they had to wait till the stroke of break for a 2-0 lead.
Balwant went down the right and swung a cross with both Jeje and Sony in the box as the Indian AIFF Player of the Year Jeje hit the crossbar that richochetted in. Capitalising on a defensive lapse, the Maldives outfit made it 2-1 with Omodu easily deceiving Debjit Majumder under the bar.
Jeje completed his hat-trick with Katsumi Yusua surging down the centre and finding Prabir Das down the right as he brilliantly curled in for Jeje to finish. Balwant set up the fourth goal for Katsumi to slide it sideways and Sony smashed it across the face of the goal to complete the rout.
In the first leg, Club Valencia striker Godfrey West Omodu nullified Darryl Duffy’s sixth minute lead with his strike in the 71st minute and Mohun Bagan had to settle for a 1-1 draw.