Matchday Two - Group E: New Radiant 3-1 Aizawl FC
Male: An Ali Ashfaq hat-trick helped New Radiant of the Maldives come from a goal down to defeat India’s Aizawl 3-1 to remain top of Group E in the AFC Cup at the National Stadium in Male on Wednesday.
New Radiant went into the game on the back of a 1-0 opening-day win over Bangladesh’s Abahani Limited Dhaka, while Aizawl were making their maiden appearance in the competition.
After a goalless first half hour, the visitors broke the deadlock when Lalram Hmunmawia tapped home from close range after first a surging Andrei Ionescu and then Albert Zohmingmawia were denied by goalkeeper Imran Mohamed.
The hosts levelled five minutes before the interval after Aizawl failed to properly clear a New Radiant attack and Ahmed Abdulla’s delivery back into the box was well finished by Ashfaq.
New Radiant had the better of the early stages in the second half and Ashfaq saw his sweetly struck shot well parried out by goalkeeper Lalawmouia just after the hour.
The visitors were then reduced to 10 men with 16 minutes remaining when goalscorer Hmunmawia was dismissed for a foul on substitute Guillem Marti, before the home team took the lead soon after.
Angel Luiz’s ball over the top was headed by Guillem to Hisam Saleem on the left touchline and his looping cross was met by Ashfaq for his second of the game.
The striker then completed his hat-trick with five minutes remaining when he acrobatically finished Ali Fasir’s headed pass to round off a fine night’s work.
New Radiant’s next task will be an away trip to 2016 runners-up JSW Bengaluru of India in four weeks’ time, before which Aizawl host Bengaluru in northeast India.