Blue Star SC, club from Sri Lanka moved a step closer to the AFC Cup 2022 group stage, after win against Machhindra FC, club from Nepal with a score 2-1 in AFC Cup 2022 South zone Preliminary 1st Round at Dashrath Rangasala Stadium, Kathmandu.
First half goals from Mohamed Ishan and Shenal Sandesh proved decisive for the visitors, who are now potentially 180 minutes away from becoming the first Sri Lankan club to secure group stage football in the competition.
Sujal Shreshtha pulled back a goal for Machhindra with virtually the final action of the match, but it couldn’t prevent a defeat which ended the hosts’ Asian odyssey ended at the first hurdle.
With both sides appearing in the AFC Cup for the first time, and a clash against Indian Super League powerhouse ATK Mohun Bagan awaiting the winners, there was plenty to play for, and it was the Blue Star who seized control in the first half.
They opened the scoring in the 25th minute, with Mohamad Fasal’s inventive pass exposing a napping Machhindra defence, and Ihsan calmly stroking the ball beyond goalkeeper Bishal Shrestha to the delight of his teammates.
They were delighted again just three minutes later, when Sandesh wriggled his way into the penalty area ahead of Ranjit Dhimal before firing a 12-yard effort into the top corner of the net to make it two.
Machhinda didn’t give up the fight but, despite several second half attempts, the goal they hoped would kick start a recovery never materialised.
Andres Tchounkeu came as close as anyone when his towering header bounced back off the crossbar following a corner kick at the hour mark, and their luck appeared to have run out when successive efforts were cleared off the Blue Star goal line eight minutes later.
Machhindra’s pressure finally bore fruit when Shreshtha powered home an excellent header in the fourth minute of injury time, but it came too late for the hosts, with Blue Star hanging on for a memorable away wi
The Sri Lankan side will now look ahead to next week’s clash against ATK Mohun Bagan, where a win will put them one game away from what would be a historic appearance in May’s group stage.
Source : AFC
Credit Photo : ANFA