PL Next Gen Cup: RF Young Champs oust ATK Mohun Bagan; West Ham United beat Everton
Alex Kontoujam scored a perfect hat-trick as Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC) defeated ATK Mohun Bagan 4-0 in their final fixture of the Reliance Foundation presents Premier League Next Generation Cup in Navi Mumbai on Thursday.
RFYC rounded off their campaign with a flawless victory and a lot of credit for the same goes to Kontoujam, who relentlessly ran through the Mariners’ defence and found the back of the net once in the first half and twice in the second.
RFYC broke the deadlock with an excellent counter-attack in the 10th minute. They recovered possession in the inner channel of the left flank and broke the ATK Mohun Bagan midfield with an incisive vertical pass. Kontoujam received the ball deftly near the 18-yard box and curled in a fantastic finish on the bottom right corner to get the crucial first lead in the favour of his team.
Revenge taken & how! 💥
Watch #RelianceFoundation presents #PLNextGen Cup 2023 LIVE on the #HeroISL, @RFYouthSports & @premierleague YouTube channels! 📺#ATKMBRFYC #RelianceFoundation #ATKMohunBagan #RFYoungChamps | @PLforIndia pic.twitter.com/uuZj8U17Ka
— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) May 25, 2023
The team from Kolkata tried to gather their momentum thereafter. The duo of Loitongbam Taison Singh and Suhail Ahmed Bhat interlinked multiple times in the frontline in order to find a way through the RFYC defence. However, the Arata Izumi-coached side was positioned to perfection as they threatened breaking into a counter as soon as they won the ball back deep in their own half.
There appeared to be a clear shift in their tactical setup in this game and that reflected with the relative ease with which they were able to close out the contest in the second half. Kontoujam floated across the final third seamlessly, as he regularly made inroads into the ATK Mohun Bagan defence from either flanks. This culminated with him getting his second goal of the night from the right wing in the 51st minute.
RFYC had built up a free-flowing offensive move as they switched the ball on both ends of the pitch extremely well. The forward received a near perfect pass as he cut into the box and then finished the move off with a finish into the bottom left corner from his left foot. RFYC didn’t budge and kept on building pressure thereafter.
They tested the ATK Mohun Bagan defence from all quarters and pushed players ahead in quest of another goal that could pretty much seal the fate of the game in their favour. Fortunately for them, Izumi’s team won a spot-kick in the 58th minute and Kontoujam stepped up to take the shot.
The Mariners’ goalkeeper Syed Zahid Hussain dived in the wrong direction as the young RFYC forward brought up a memorable hat-trick. Later, RFYC substitute Avaneesh Kamath nodded in an accurate header in the 65th minute to ensure that his team brought curtains down to their run in this tournament with an impressive two victories in four matches.
West Ham United triumph 3-0 over rivals Everton
Three goals in the final 15 minutes helped West Ham United FC secure a 3-0 victory against Everton FC in their final fixture of the Reliance Foundation presents Premier League Next Generation Cup at the Reliance Corporate Park (RCP) in Navi Mumbai tonight.
The two Premier League teams chased the opening goal for well over an hour before Gideon Kodua tapped in a cross from the left flank in the 62nd minute to get the Hammers ahead in the game. Following that, the Lauris Coggin-coached team put forth a flawless display of attacking football as they pushed Everton back by charging on their box from all sides.
West Ham had tried to find breakthroughs in the Everton defence from the centre for a major portion of the game. However, they tasted success when they sent in lateral deliveries into the box from both the wings. With a combination of low and aerial crosses, the Hammers found the back of the net thrice by ensuring that their midfielders and forwards outnumbered the Everton players inside the 18-yard box.
.@WestHam made their second-half dominance count as they beat fellow English side @EvertonAcademy 3-0 in their final game of #PLNextGen Cup 2023! 🤩#RFDL #WestHamUnited #EvertonFC | @RFYouthSports | @PLforIndia
— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) May 25, 2023
Minutes after Kodua’s opener, West Ham star Ollie Scarles cut into the box and played a short pass to his teammate Regan Clayton. The ball was relayed back to Scarles, who effortlessly took on Everton substitute Brad Moonan and shot the ball past goalkeeper Seb Jensen to secure his side’s second goal of the night.
The Toffees understandably began pushing players forward in order to cut the deficit and possibly level the scoreline towards the fag end of the match. However, that only allowed West Ham to make use of the more open spaces within their defence. Kodua along with Scarles formed multiple brilliant passing patterns in the frontline and they were well-supported by Clayton from the flank.
Everton’s constant search of a goal bore no result as they were successfully restricted within their own half by the West Ham unit. The Hammers visibly found their mojo and did not hold back, which was apparent from when they pushed as many as eight players near the box for a corner kick in the added time.
The extra players acted as a decoy as Kodua jumped the highest to meet the ball and nod it into the back of the net to secure his team’s third goal of the night and accordingly help his team close out this campaign on a victorious note.