Salgaocar FC humble East Bengal, climb to 8th spot in I-League; Mohun Bagan remain on top

Salgaocar ileagueNEW DELHI: Round 11 of the Hero I-League started with an upset and wrapped up with a result which has never been witnessed in the I-League before. The other two encounters played at the Fatorda Stadium and the Cooperage Ground respectively failed to find any winner at the end of 90 minutes of pulsating football.

Salgaocar FC, who had their back to the wall before coming to the match, humbled Kingfisher East Bengal in the 4th minute as Semboi Haokip netted his 1st goal of the season. The Greens had to endure an early shock as their ace striker Darryl Duffy had to be replaced within the first ten minutes, owing to his sudden injury. The Nigerian goal-machine Ranti Martins brought parity in the 24th minute but the Greens restored the lead once again within next 10 minutes.

Samad Ali Mullick tripped Jackichand Singh inside the box and the referee didn't think twice to indicate towards the 6-yard spot. The Australian striker Calvin Mbarga netted his maiden Hero I-League goal 10 minutes to the breather. Kingfisher East Bengal gaffer Biswajit Bhattacharya tried every option available to him but none could find the equaliser against the Greens. Incidentally, Salgaocar FC earned first three points at their home this season.

The league leaders Mohun Bagan were scheduled against Sporting Clube de Goa in their second successive away fixture in Goa. The Mariners had got the better of the Flaming Oranje in the first leg, courtesy the sole strike by the skipper Katsumi Yusa. Luciano Sabrosa made a comeback to the starting lineup after his suspension in the last match. Before the half-an-hour mark, Sony Norde cut into the box with sheer pace from the left flank and unleashed a lethal ball, which was converted nicely by the youngster Brandon Fernandes. Sadly, the U-22 attacking medio injured himself badly in the first half and the gaffer had to go for a change. The misfortune of netting own goal in the Hero I-League is not leaving Mohun Bagan and Raju Gaikwad is the newest member in the list. Debjit Majumder couldn't put the ball aside and Sporting Clube de Goa found their much-needed equaliser in the 37th minute. Cornell Glen couldn't live up to the expectations till the end and the Mariners shared the spoils with the home team.
Mumbai FC, who are dented by severe injuries at the moment, hurled Aizawl FC, who had an edgy start at the Cooperage Stadium, pretty hard as Ryuki Kozowa converted the spot kick three minutes into the match. The agile North-eastern troop recuperated fast and flooded the Mumbai FC box with attacks. Before the clock read 20 minutes, Albert Zohmingmawia cancelled the Mumbai FC lead, leaving Mumbai FC defenders aghast. Both the managers went for changes within 30 minutes but neither could make any difference before the lemon break. Khalid Jamil introduced veteran striker Sushil Singh after the sojourn in their pursuit of the elusive three points at the Cooperage Stadium.

Eric Brown, who had one of the finest outings for the Yellow outfits, put his team in the driving seat again in the 57th minute while he scored an exquisite goal from a direct free kick. The luck was definitely not on Mumbai FC's side as they had to concede just 6 minutes later as the veteran ball player Syed Rahim Nabi netted an own goal. The ex-national defender tried to clear the corner but his miscued effort sent the ball into the net. Khalid Jamil handed Ishfaq Ahmed his Mumbai FC debut but he hardly got any time to deliver. The match ended in another frustrating stalemate for Mumbai FC who earned only three points from their last three home matches.

Bengaluru FC travelled all the way to Shillong in their quest for an elusive win against Shillong Lajong in their home. Vishal Kaith, who was cautioned within first 10 minutes, had an extremely busy time out at the middle to keep the Blues at bay. In the 35th minute, the young Bengaluru FC attacker Udanta Singh shut the home supporters, who thronged the JN Stadium in the support for the Reds. Thangboi Singto introduced Uilliams Souza Silva after the hour mark to grab at least a point ahead of their home supporters. Eventually, in the 81st minute, the North Korean striker scored his 4th goal in the ongoing Hero I-League from a long ball delivered by the TATA Football Academy cadet Udanta Singh. The Steelmen, under the tutelage of Ashley Westwood, broke the Shillong jinx as well as many a heart in the JN Stadium.

The loss at the Tilak Maidan dented Kingfisher East Bengal's title hope heavily and now they are third with 17 points, behind arch rivals Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC, who have gathered 22 and 21 points respectively playing 10 matches apiece. Salgaocar FC have now climbed up to the 8th spot following the win over Kingfisher East Bengal and the Greens are now 2 points clear of DSK Shivajians, who are placed at the bottom with 6 points.