Johor Darul Ta’zim were in impressive form on Tuesday as they opened their 2015 AFC Cup Group F campaign with a 4-1 win over East Bengal at the Larkin Stadium.
It took Harimau Selatan just nine minutes to open their account when Nazrin Nawi lined up a freekick 25 yards out from goal, before sending a sublime effort into the top corner.
However, the Indian visitors responded five minutes after the half-hour mark in similar fashion when Ranti Martins’ freekick from the edge of the box deflected off the wall and crept past Izham Tarmizi’s despairing dive.
Nonetheless, the hosts reclaimed the lead four minutes later after Milan Susak had been penalised for handball inside the area, paving the way for Safiq Rahim to confidently convert from the penalty spot.
Three minutes into the second half, their lead was further extended after Jasazrin Jamaluddin beat the offside trap and raced through on goal, before laying the ball into the path of S. Chanturu for an easy tap-in.
And in the 54th minute, the rout was completed when Safee Sali got in on the act, meeting Nazrin’s left-wing cross with an audacious bicycle kick that had Abhijit Mondal beaten all ends up.
In Group F’s other game, Hong Kong giants Kitchee also got off to a winning start as they cruised to a 3-0 win over Singapore’s Balestier Khalsa.
Xu Deshuai broke the deadlock for the hosts at the Mong Kok Stadium in the 21st minute, before second-half strikes from Ngan Lok Fung and Jordi Tarres helped them wrap up the three points.
Over in Group F, Indonesia Super League outfit Persipura Jayapura produced a commanding display to record a 3-1 win over reigning S.League champions Warriors FC at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
The visitors took the lead on the half-hour mark when Robertino Pugliara’s pressure on Marin Vidosevic forced the Warriors centre-back to clear the ball straight to Lancine Kone, who made no mistake in drilling his shot past Neezam Aziz.
Four minutes later, it was 2-0 after Pugliara’s flick into the area was cleared only as far as to Boaz Solossa, who sent a lovely left-footed volley on the turn into the top corner.
The contest was effectively over by the 58th minute when another error by Vidosevic saw him lose the ball outside his own box to Pugliara, who advanced on goal before unselfishly squaring the ball for Nelson Alom to tap in from four yards out.
Still, Warriors did manage to pull one back in the 70th minute after substitute Andy Ahmad’s fierce volley came off the bar and bounced off Dede Sulaiman into the back of the net, although it was little more than a consolation.
The other Group E clash saw Bengaluru of India beat Maldivian side Maziya 2-1 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.