Aizawl FC suffered a 1-3 drubbing against New Radiant in their maiden AFC Cup match, with skipper Ali Ashfaq’s hat-trick leading the Maldivian charge in Male on Wednesday.
The 2016-17 I-League winners, playing with 10 men for some part of the second half, found the day’s opener in the 33rd minute. But the game belonged to New Radiant as the striker Ashfaq scored in the 40th, 77th and 85th minute at the National Stadium.
The three points secured from the game put New Radiant, champions of Maldives, on top of Group E. They have won both the games they played so far.
Coming after an unimpressive I-League campaign, where they managed to stave off relegation, Aizawl drew first blood in the game when Lalram Hmunmawia, with his left foot, sent the ball to the left corner of the opposition net for the Indian club’s first goal in the continental competition.
Ali Ashfaq’s exploits began with five minutes to go in the first half. He slotted in a right-footed kick into the corner of the net from Abdulla’s cross from the right.
The game was played mostly in the midfield in the second half till Ashfaq found the net one more time.
Aizawl’s task became tougher when Hmunmawia was sent off for bringing down substitute Guillem Marti in the 74th minute.
Hisam Saleem’s cross was then headed in by the 32-year-old Ashfaq as the ball bounced off the ground, hit the bar and entered the net before the Aizawl defence could react.
Ashfaq completed the hat-trick when he tapped in with his left foot after Ali Fasir headed the ball down for the striker inside the box with five minutes to go.