Abahani Limited crashed out of the AFC Cup 2018 after conceding a shocking 5-1 defeat away to Maldives top-flight champion New Radiant Sporting Club in their fifth Group E match at National Stadium in Male Wednesday.
Maldives forward Ali Fasir scored a hat-trick while the country's football superstar Ali Ashfaq added a brace to secure New Radiant's fourth win in five games. Japanese midfielder Seiya Kojima scored the only goal for the Sky Blues early in the second half.
Before kick-off, Abahani had gone two consecutive games without defeat for the very first time in the AFC Cup, having beaten Aizawl Football Club 3-1 away and drawing 1-1 at home against the same opposition. Abahani have now lost four consecutive matches against sides from Maldives in the AFC Cup.
Abahani head coach Saiful Bari Titu made a couple of changes from the previous game, bringing in youngster Saad Uddin for injured defender Nasir Uddin Chowdhury while Nabib Newaj Jibon started upfront, ahead of Rubel Mia.
Nigerian defender Alison Udoka conceded an early penalty in the 19th minute and Fasir made no mistake breaking the deadlock from the spot.
After seeing his close-range shot brilliantly saved by Radiant goalkeeper Imran Mohamed, Kojima equalised for the visitor within a minute into the second half. Fed by Saad, Kojima saw his right-footed strike from the right side of the box beat the opponent keeper into the bottom-right corner.
New Radiant piled more pressure on the visitor and scored three goals in the space of only eight minutes. Fasir completed his treble, one from outside the box in the 51st minute before adding the other from the middle of the box five minutes later. Ashfaq added two more in the 58th and 88th minute to complete the rout.
New Radiant moved top of the points table with 12 points, same as Bengaluru FC, who are second with an inferior goal difference. Abahani remained third with four points and will conclude their AFC Cup campaign against Bengaluru at home on May 16.
New Radiant 5
(Fasir 19 - P, 51, 56, Ashfaq 58, 88) 1 Abahani