Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Air India deny victory to Lajong in drawn match

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IMPHAL: Air India goalkeeper Pawan Kumar saved a late penalty to deny Shillong Lajong FC a possible win in the fifth round I-League match at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal on Thursday.

In what was a home match for Lajong, the team seized complete control of the match from the word go and did not allow the Airmen to settle. Plenty of chances went begging as Lajong forwards made a mess of the opportunities at hand.

Air India were content to sit back and absorb pressure as the team lined up to snatch an away point which seemed to be their only objective. The Air India defense fared well putting in last ditch tackles to stop the Lajong forwards who seemed to be up for the match.

In the first half, James Gbilee had a big opportunity to put his name on the scoresheet after being unmarked in the box for the first time, but the crossbar denied him the goal. At the fag end of the half Chizoba demonstrated exquisite skill, dribbling effortlessly past the Air India defense but his shot left a lot to be desired, as it was straight to the goalkeeper.

Lajong looked more determined than ever to find that all elusive goal in the second half as they came back stronger. But the Air India defense held firm.

James Gbilee now turned provider and set up John Menyongar but the post again came in Lajong’s way and another goal was spurned. Gbilee himself had two chances when he was inside the box with only the goalkeeper to beat, but the ball did not sit down for him to take his shot.

The mighty impressive Gbilee who did everything save find the back of the net again shot wide twice doing all the hard work but his shots sailing wide.

But there was late drama when a deliberate handball from an Air India defender in the box meant the referee had no hesitation to award a penalty for Lajong. Aibor Khongjee stepped up calmly to take the spot-kick but Pawan Kumar became the unlikely hero when he dived spectacularly to the left and held on to the ball.

Lajong will certainly be disappointed with failing to capture a full three points while Air India would be satisfied with their away performance.

Bagan drub Churchill

A buoyant Mohun Bagan handed Churchill Brothers a 3-0 thrashing to nose ahead of the Goans in the standings to be on second spot after round five of the fifth I-League match on Thursday.

Sunil Chhetri fired in from long range to put the local giants ahead in the 28th minute, while his striking partner Ashim Biswas made a 2-0 lead at half-time with his header in the 45+1st minute.

A regrouped Churchill Brothers looked to bounce back in the second-half but in absence of their ace striker N D Opara the Goans failed to break the Mohun Bagan defence as Jewel Raja completed the rout for Mohun Bagan with a 90+5th minute strike.

The win meant Mohun Bagan climbed to second spot behind Dempo with 12 points.

After suffering their first loss of the I-League at the flood-lit Yuba Bharati Krirangan here today, Churchill Brothers (10) dropped to fourth position.

Without their star signing Odafa Onyeka Okolie who is recovering from an injury, Mohun Bagan started well under Chhetri and Biswas upfront.

The Indian stalwart impressed with his raids, something that resulted in a goal from nowhere for the lead.

Chhetri’s right footer from 30 yards found deflection from a Churchill defender before finding the back of the net.

With no Beto, Churchill had a tough first-half, even as Mohun Bagan allowed a few opportunities.

Mohun Bagan doubled the lead at the stroke of interval when a long cross from Raja was brilliantly capitalised by an aerial Biswas who finished it with a clinical header.

Churchill showed the right intent after the changeover but Opara’s absence hurt them badly as Mohun Bagan defence with Surkumar Singh, Kingshuk Debnath and Anwar Ali did a neat job.

Senior-most pro Jose Barreto made a comeback when he came in place of Snehashish Chakraborty in the 70th minute, even as Churchill’s Gabonese striker Henry Antchouet struggled to get a goal.

In the final minutes, Raja scored from a counterattack when he received the ball from Barreto before slotting past Churchill goalkeeper Felix D’souza.

Dempo beat Chirag

Dempo SC continued their unbeaten run in the I-League as they defeated Chirag United Kerala 2-1 in the fifth round at the University Stadium here today.

Ranty Martin was the hero of the day for Dempo scoring a brace, taking his tally to eight goals in five matches.

Martins showed a glimpse of things to come as his shot flew inches wide just three minutes into the game. But ten minutes later, Chirag wasn’t lucky enough as the Nigerian striker headed in his first goal of the evening from a Clifford Miranda cross.

There was five minutes added at the end of the second half due to interruptions from the injuries and that was enough for Ranty Martins to score his eighth of the season and double the advantage for the Goans.

After the limebreak, Chirag looked more likely to score as the crowd spurred the home team on. And at the hour mark, Vineeth scored a goal for Chirag Kerala, first goal conceded by Dempo SC this season after 400 minutes of football.

In another match Salgaocar edge past Mumbai FC 1-0. (Agencies)

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