Category: I-League

I-League 2018/19: Plaza gives Churchill Brothers crucial win over Neroca

Goa, January 19, 2019: Trinidad & Tobago striker Willis Deon Plaza scored a brace to join Chennai’s Pedro Manzi at the top of the Hero I-League’s goal scoring charts and complete a brilliant comeback for his side, late in the second half, to pull off a crucial win over Neroca FC of Manipur.

Neroca seemed to have sealed three points in Saturday’s third and final Hero I-League game, thanks to a Varney Kallon strike in the first half before Plaza struck twice in the last five minutes to break their hearts.

It was an amazing turnaround and with this win, the former two-time champions reached 25 points from 14 games to be placed third on the table, five behind league leaders Chennai. Neroca would rue what might have been and remained in the fifth position with 21 points.

Churchill made one change in the playing eleven from the previous game as Nenad Novakovic came in place of Hussein Eldor in deep defence. Neroca’s Spanish coach Manuel Fraile, on the other hand, made two, replacing Saran Singh and Ashok with Tondomba Singh and Meetei.

In a thrilling end to end encounter, as was expected from two attack-minded sides, Plaza got his first clear chance of the game in the 13th minute when he latched on to a defensive error and got into a scoring position inside the box but narrowly missed the target after beating the keeper.

In the 18th minute, Neroca’s Australian import Aryn Williams turned one around towards goal off a corner, but it was comfortable for Kithan to collect.

Neroca took the lead quite against the run of play and for the umpteenth time in this edition of the Hero I-League, it resulted from a set-piece. Malem took the free-kick from outside the Churchill box from the left flank and floated in a right-footed curler towards the near post.

Liberian defender Kallon had come in specifically for this routine and got ahead of his marker to deflect the ball into the Churchill net past keeper James Kithan.

Churchill looked to hit back immediately and Dawda Cessay got at the end of an Anthony Wolfe pass and controlled beautifully to float it back in towards the Trinidadian Wolfe, who he found in space for a free header. Wolfe’s effort sailed agonisingly over the bar.

Then in the 40th minute, the hosts came close to scoring twice. First Richard Costa’s shot from inside the box went just wide and then a Dawda Cessay effort was collected by Lalit Thapa in the Neroca goal.

The half ended with another rasping drive by the Gambian Cessay which was parried away by Thapa.

Churchill began with a flurry in the second half but it was Neroca who had the first gilt-edged opportunity of the half when Subhash found Katsumi Yusa with a cross from the left flank and the Japanese winger’s angled header just missed the post.

Lalit Thapa then brought off a couple of saves, first off a Cessay free-kick and then off a Khalid Aucho pile driver.

In the 66th minute, Katsumi fed a lovely cross by Nigerian striker Felix Chidi, but he failed to trap properly and Kithan collected the ball from his feet bravely.

Then Malem’s free-kick in the 72nd minute, curled from outside the wall but again missed narrowly although Kithan seemed to have it covered.

Plaza then turned the game and the result on its head with two telling strikes.

Dawda Cessay executed a perfect pass from midfield sighting Plaza’s run in between two defenders. The Trinidadian, who has been in clinical finishing form, unleashed a left-footed strike across Kithan and into the Neroca net. This was in the 85th minute.

Then in the first minute of added time, substitute Israil Gurung floated the ball in from a corner and Plaza jumped over his marker near the first post and found the back of the net again with a brilliant header.

It was one of the best games of the season and Neroca would consider themselves unlucky to be on the losing side after coming so close, but Churchill with the form they are displaying seems to be in prime position to take advantage of any let up from leaders Chennai going forward.

I-League 2018/19: Real Kashmir keep climbing with comfortable victory against Lajong

Shillong, January 19, 2019: Real Kashmir FC, now playing like experienced settled sides, a far cry from the debutants tag, notched up a comfortable solitary-goal-victory over bottom-placed Shillong Lajong at the JLN stadium in Shillong, Meghalaya today.

Kashmir’s Zambian centre-back Aaron Katebe got the all-important winner in the 74th minute of the second half, propelling the ‘snow leopards’ to second on the points table, just five behind leaders Chennai after both have played 13 games each.

To begin with, both managers David Robertson and Alison Kharyntiew made two changes and both coincidentally in the midfield positions. Kashmir started Khalid Qayoom and Nagen Tamang in place of Farhan Ganie and Danish Farooq while Shillong rested leader of the pack Samuel Lalmuanpia and Sheen Stevenson, bringing in Hnamte and Phrangki Buam in their place.

Honours were even in the first half with Shillong’s Red Devils dominating possession as also having the best looks at goal. Samuel Lyngdoh’s volley as early as in the fifth minute sailed over the goal.

The young hosts were not able to convert any of their interesting moves however and were made to pay for their discretion in the second half.

Just after David Robertson effected a double substitution in the second half, bringing in Gnohere Krizo and Danish Farooq for Koffi Tetteh and Qayoom, Kashmir went ahead from a setpiece.

Surchandra Singh floated the ball across the goal away from the far post from a corner, to which Loveday Okechukwu rose the tallest to direct a header back towards the centre of the goal. Zambian Katebe, Loveday’s partner at centre-back, was lurking around and slotted his header into the Shillong net.

Kashmir took control of proceedings from there on and Mason Roberston took a thunderous shot on the turn from the top of the box in the 81st minute, which hit the upright after it was brilliantly palmed away by keeper Lachempa.

Robertson then missed another couple of clear chances and in the end, Kashmir had to be satisfied with the 1-0 scoreline.

For Shillong, the only consolation was the Hero of the Match award bagged by keeper Phurba Lachempa for his vital contributions, without which the scoreline could have been different.

I-League 2018/19: Minerva Punjab FC leave it late to share spoils with Gokulam Kerala FC

Panchkula,19th January 2019: Minerva Punjab FC fans witnessed a nail-biting finish as the home side snatched a draw from a near-definite loss, scoring an equalizer in the final minute of the game.

While it were the visitors Gokulam Kerala FC who drew first blood in the 82nd minute through Debutant Marcus Joseph, a 10-man Minerva Punjab FC scraped in a beautiful equalizer in the final minute of the additional time through Musa Caicedo (90’ + 4’) to share the spoils. Gokulam’s Marcus Joseph was adjudged the Hero of the Match.

The first half began with Minerva Punjab FC in their traditional Blue Stripes, while Gokulam Kerala FC in Maroon and Orange. Both the teams made four changes in the playing XI. Arshdeep Singh was back guarding the posts Midfielder Sourav Rautella, Defender Akashdeep Singh and Cote D’Ivoirian forward Kouame Konan Zacharie found a place in the playing XI for Minerva Punjab FC.

Gokulam Kerala FC, on the other hand, introduced Deepak K and Wungngayam Muirang in defence while Imran Khan and Ghanian Charles Teiko Folley to the attack.

The visitors made their intent very clear from the first minute and would have nearly got a breakthrough in the 2nd minute through an outstanding header from Pritam Singh off an Abhishek Das cross, finding the back of the net, but was disallowed by the referee giving a fresh lease of life to the Minerva Punjab FC.

The game, thereafter, saw the visitors making continuous attacks but the defending champions had organized them to deny Gokulam any clear chance to create troubles.

Minerva’s woes took a new turn when in the 20th minute there forward Zacharie was asked to march off the field owing to a red card that was a result of an unnecessary foul committed on the Gokulam keeper Arnab Das inside the box. Gokulam Kerala FC who enjoyed a higher possession in the game but neither of the teams could any further chances to draw first blood.

Minerva Punjab FC who were playing with 10 men on the field showcased a lot of composure denying the visitors any chances to change the goal less first half to their favour.

The second half began with Gokulam Kerala pressing hard for a lead against a 10-Men Minerva Punjab FC. Minerva, on the other hand, ensured a strong defence line denying the visitors any clear chance to take the lead.

A major part of the second half was played around the midfield with the hosts mostly on defence while Gokulam Kerala FC attacking in short bursts but was unable to create any
clear chance.

Gokulam’s efforts were rewarded in the 82nd minute when debutant Marcus Joseph from Trinidad & Tobago found the back of the net to give the visitors a hard-fought lead.

Gokulam Kerala FC, thereafter, went on an attacking spree but full marks to Minerva Punjab FC defenders who did not allow the visitors the insurance goal as they would have desired for.

Minerva Punjab FC who were on the verge of a seventh consecutive loss now did not stop trying and their valiant efforts found results when Souvik das crafted a well-thought pass to Moinuddin inside the box who further headed it to Caicedo.

Caicedo made no mistake in heading the ball inside the goal bringing in a magical equalizer for Minerva Punjab FC during the final minute of the additional time as both the teams ended up sharing the spoils.

I-League 2018/19: Chennai’s Spanish juggernaut earns hard-fought win over Aizawl FC

Coimbatore, January 18, 2019: Sandro Rodriguez scored on either side of the half and Pedro Manzi helped himself to score arguably the goal of the season and another to boot, as Chennai outclassed Aizawl FC 4-3 to take a step closer to the 12th Hero I-League crown at Coimbatore’s Nehru stadium.

Albert got a 37th minute equaliser for Aizawl after Sandro had given the hosts a lead in the 28th, and for a while till the quarter hour mark of the second half, the visitors looked in the ascendency before Manzi Magic struck a definitive blow to take the game away from Aizawl, despite a late rally by them.

The win takes them to 30 points with seven more games to go and an eight-point gap from their nearest rivals at this stage. Stanley Rozario, the new Aizawl coach looked positive, to begin with starting Albert Zohmingmawia Vanlalduatsanga in place of Lalrosanga and Fanai, who had started the previous game.

For the hosts as well, Akbar Nawas was forced to leave out a suspended Roberto Eslava and played the versatile Jozef Kaplan in defence. Sri Ram was also replaced by Srinivasan Pandiyan, who came back from suspension.

Chennai took the lead in the 28th minute after a move created by Pravitto Raju on the right saw him try to setup Nestor with a cut back in. The Spaniard displayed vision to leave it for Sandro backing up, who let go from distance and the ball caught Gurpreet’s palms before going into the Aizawl net.

About 10 minutes later, Alfred Jaryan muscled the ball away from Pandiyan in the centre of midfield and played a quick 1-2 with Kasagga and upon getting the ball back, released Albert who had made a darting run into the box from the right.

The talented youngster brought back by Stanley Rozario after not getting much game-time during Raikhan’s tenure earlier, coolly slotted the ball between Santana’s legs and into the Chennai net.

From then till the 60th minute of the game, Aizawl clearly looked the better team and threatened many a time to take the lead.

Ivorian Zikahi Dodoz was guilty of missing at least two gilt-edged opportunities to score. Chennai also had their fair share of misses and Romario was the main culprit missing a sitter in the 58th minute after misdirecting a volley earlier.

Then there was simply some Manzi Magic at the hour mark.

A ball cleared by the Romario from the Chennai back line bounced in front of Pedro Manzi just inside the Aizawl half near the right touchline. The Spanish sniper took a touch forward, looked up, saw keeper Gurpreet off his line and fired from 40 yards out to lob the keeper and nestle the ball into the Aizawl net.

It was a goal worthy of taking him to the top of the 12th Hero I-League goalscorers list with his 12th of the campaign.

It was a goal feast from then on with Sandro getting his second of the game in the 69th, not for the first time in this year’s campaign, swinging in a brilliantly taken free-kick, to beat Gurpreet all ends up.

Nestor, who had a relatively quieter day, then got into the mix, playing in the perfectly weighted ball into the box for Manzi, who had initiated the move from the right. The striker chipped in calmly over the keeper for this 13th.

Then in injury time, Aizawl attempted an outrageous comeback with two more outstanding goals, ushering in a thrilling finish.

First Isaac, controlled a second ball off a corner, took a touch forward with his left foot to create space and curled it intelligently over Santana in the Chennai goal.

A minute later, Aizawl intercepted the ball in the midfield and Mapuia, played on inside the box, shrugged off his marker to unleash a right-footer past Santana. It was Mapuia’s third of the season and all his goals have been quality so far.

It was a brave effort by Aizawl but in the end, Chennai ran out deserving winners to consolidate their position at the top.

I-League 2018/19: Jamie Colado strikes to get the job done against Indian Arrows

Kolkata, January 18, 2019: A Jamie Santos Colado strike in the second half was enough to get the job done for Quess East Bengal against Indian Arrows at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) as the ‘Red & Golds’ climbed to second on the table after 12 games, five shy of leaders Chennai.

The Arrows will remain at eighth position with 13 points after an equal number of games.

QEB’s Spanish coach Alejandro Garcia made two changes to the starting eleven from their previous game against Chennai. Regular Lalrindika Ralte was suspended and Kamalpreet got a start while Samad Ali Mallick sat on the bench as Lalram Chullova came back in after suspension.

The Arrows coach Floyd Pinto fielded an unchanged side from their thumping 3-0 victory against Shillong in their previous game.

Santos it was, who had the first shot at goal in the 12th minute of the game when he latched onto a second ball and fired only for it to be way off the mark.

He then fed Joby Justin from the right flank but the premiere QEB striker’s header was well collected by Prabhsukhan Gill in the Arrows goal. The closest QEB came to scoring in the half, however, was when Frenchman Kassim Aidara’s scorcher from 20-25 yards out off a loose ball which resulted off a Chullova throw inside the box, hit the right upright and came back.

The winning goal came just three minutes into the second half. Joby latched on to a ball on the right flank, just a minute after he had attempted another wonderful cross from the same position, but this time cut the ball back into the box instead of driving it across.

The ball seemed to have been intercepted by the Arrows defence, but they fumbled and Santos lurking around, pounced on the opening and blasted it into the net.

The Arrows then had a couple of chances threw Rahul KP but the closest he came was the side-netting in the 81st minute.

In the 84th, Joby again found Santos with a cross after darting inside the box with a fine-run, but the Spaniard could not connect for a tap home.

Defender Borja Gomez was adjudged Hero of the Match and left-back Manoj Mohammad saw red in injury time as the game drew to a fiery close.

I-League 2018/19: Mohun Bagan steam past Shillong Lajong

Kolkata, December 23, 2018 :  Kolkata giants and former champions Mohun Bagan, displayed a thoroughly professional performance at home to notch up a victory against bottom placed Shillong Lajong, at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) on Sunday. Japanese midfielder Yuta Kinowaki opened the scoring for the home-team just two minutes into the second half and Ugandan front man Henry Kisekka added a second in the 60th minute to seal three points for the ‘Green and Maroon’ brigade.

With this first home win of the 12th Hero I-League season, Bagan move up to fifth on the table, level on points with third and fourth placed Quess East Bengal and Neroca FC respectively, two behind second placed Real Kashmir and three behind league leaders Chennai City FC.

Shillong remain in last position after suffering their seventh loss in nine games.

Mohun Bagan made one change in their lineup as Eze Kingsley came back in defence after serving his suspension, in place of Gurjinder Kumar. While Alison Kharsyntiew, the Shillong gaffer, made three changes to his previous starting eleven. Key among them being Purbha Lachempa back under the Shillong bar in place of Neithovilie Chalieu.

Mohun Bagan dominated the first half and had around nine shots at goal to two for the visitors but could not get the breakthrough.

Cameroonian striker Dipanda Dicka got the first clear cut chance of the half in the 16th minute, when he chested down a cross from the left and shot for goal but Purbha Lachempa in the Shillong goal brought about a brilliant save.

Apart from Dicka, Kiseeka and Egyptian midfielder Omar El Husseiny were also guilty of missing gilt-edged opportunities in the half.

Bagan took the lead immediately on commencement of the second half.

Two minutes into the half, Kisekka it was who started the build up from the left, passing to an overlapping Abhishek Ambekar further wide.

The diminutive left wing-back’s cross was cleared by the Shillong defence but only till the path of a lurking Yuta Kinowaki outside the box.  The Japanese curled in a right-footer first time and it crashed into the back of the Lajong net, beating Lachempa all ends up this time.

It was a classy strike and Yuta’s first of the campaign.

Sankar Roy, the Bagan keeper, then brought about the save of the game six minutes late when a Samuel Lyngdoh effort from inside the box with the goalkeeper out of position and an empty net in front of him, was miraculously kept out by the Bagan keeper.

Bagan doubled their lead in the 60th minute through Henry Kisekka’s third of the campaign.

It was veteran midfielder Mehtab Hussain, who had come on in the first half for an injured Sourav Das, with the long ball into the box this time which was cleared by Lachempa.

Faiaz was first to the second ball and chested it down towards the path of Dicka on the left. Dicka took a goal bound strike but it deflected multiple times of the Shillong defence and eventually Kisekka muscled it into the Lajong net with his boot.

I-League 2018/19: East Bengal claim Kolkata Derby bragging rights

Kolkata, December 16, 2018: A brace by Hero of the Match Laldanmawia Ralte and striker Jobby Justin’s fifth goal in the 12th Hero I-League campaign helped Quess East Bengal (QEB) halt Mohun Bagan’s seven-game unbeaten run in the famous ‘Kolkata Derby played between the two Kolkata giants at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) on Sunday.

Mohun Bagan scored twice through Azharuddin Mallick and Dipanda Dicka, but it was not enough in an exhilarating Derby which lived up to its high standards in front of 64,867 fans.

The win takes QEB up to fifth on the table with 12 points from seven games, while Mohun Bagan remain on eighth with nine points from as many games.

Red and Golds coach Alejandro Garcia made two changes to his starting line-up from the last game, one of them forced. Mexican Enrique Esqueda missed out due to injury and was replaced by Colombian recruit Jaime Santos Colado, while Costa Rican Jhonny Acosta regained his place in the eleven in place of Salam Ranjan Singh.

Coach Sankarlal Chakraborty made the exact same number of changes and ironically also was forced into replacing an injured Sony Norde with youngster Azharduddin Mallick, while Cameroonian striker Dipanda Dicka was back to lead the attack with Pintu Mahata also out injured.

QEB tried to dominate proceedings from the get-go with Jaimie Colado and Jobby Justin pleasing with their movements.

However, Mohun Bagan struck first on the 13th minute, when Egyptian midfielder Omar El Husseiny took out QEB right back Lalram Chullova with a neat body fient and cut inside the box from the left to unleash a pinpoint cross for Azhar to slot home.

QEB struck back within four minutes as left-back Manoj Mohammad sent a perfectly engineered cross towards Jobby, who beautifully played it through to Danmawia, who beat the offside trap and goalkeeper Shankar Roy in the Bagan goal.

Just before half-time, QEB took the lead, this time through a clinical back-volley finish by Jobby himself, with the same two teammates involved, only this time, Manoj’s cross from the left flank was laid off to Jobby’s path by Ralte.

Sankarlal had brought on Faiaz in place of Azhar, just before the break and Mohun Bagan began on the offensive in the second half looking for an equaliser, mainly through his runs down the right.

Then, around the 60-minute mark, Eze Kingsley, the Bagan centre-back, was sent off due to a second yellow card offence. From the resultant Lalrindika Ralte free-kick, Laldanmawia connected with his head and the ball came back to him off the Bagan defence. He made no mistake in the second attempt, this time his foot exactly in the right place to bulge the roof of the Bagan net. The Red and Golds were 3-1 up and Bagan a man down.

Credit needs to be given to Bagan for the way they mounted a fightback with 10 men after that, with most of the attacks being initiated by Arijit Bagui and Faiaz from the right flank.

In between, Jobby missed a sitter on a counter attack, but Bagan did manage a consolation goal for their efforts, when a Bagui cross in the 75th minute was cleared by Borja, but it only found its way till Dika on top of the box.

The Cameroonian striker unleashed a powerful half-volley which thundered into the QEB net, beating Rakshit Dagar all ends up.

Mohun Bagan continued to step up efforts to draw level, but East Bengal managed to hold on to their lead to pull off the victory.

I-League 2018/19: Lajong and Neroca are all set for a high-octane Northeastern battle

Shillong, 1st December 2018: The 32nd game of the Hero I-League is all set for a super Sunday clash between two northeastern powerhouses of football, Shillong Lajong FC and Neroca FC from Manipur. Both Shillong Lajong and Neroca FC have won just one game so far in this season and this game would be of paramount importance for both the teams for their journey ahead in the league.

The game is scheduled to start from 5 PM at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium, Shillong, tomorrow 2nd December 2018.

Hosts Shillong Lajong are currently placed at the 10th place in the Hero I-League points table with Four Points to their kitty (1 win, 1 draw and 4 losses) from six games whereas their opponents Neroca FC have a slight advantage on the overall position on the points tally being placed 7th ( 1 Win, 2 Draws & 2 Losses) having played a game less compared to Lajong.

Shillong Lajong, so far, have played some entertaining football giving troubles to all their opponents, but unfortunately, they haven’t been able to find the back of the net more often. However, the positives from their attacking game have been that six different players have contributed to the 8 goals that they have scored so far from their six games.

Phrangki Buam and Naorem Singh are the only two to have scored a couple for Shillong Lajong and on their day, both of these players can be extremely lethal. However, a major concern for head coach Alison Kharsyntiew would be to organise his defence line which hasn’t been in great shape so far in this season. Defensive lapses have resulted in Lajong conceding 14 goals so far.

“The problem is that we have conceded 14 goals which were just because of silly mistakes. We have to work on those mistakes and we’re doing so. The boys have shown improvements and we’ll continue doing so,” said Alison Kharsyntiew’s, Head Coach, Shillong Lajong FC.

NEROCA FC who have travelled to Shillong at the back of a 2-1 loss to table-toppers Chennai City FC will be eager to add a second win to their kitty. Neroca who had a super run last season finishing second in the Hero I-League, have been a little lacklustre this season.

However, what is to be noticed that the visitors have conceded only 5 goals this season. Neroca FC this season haven’t been very lucky on the scoring front as well with just 4 goals from 5 games. Nigerian Felix Chidi with two goals to his kitty along with Eduardo and Subash Singh has a goal each to their names for the visiting team.

Neroca FC’s Head Coach Manuel Fraile would look at exploiting the weak defence line of Shillong Lajong and use his strike force to full in order to secure a win.

“To be honest, we, at this moment, are growing up as a team. We are working hard and the players need to enjoy football. We are positive about getting a win tomorrow and we just need to keep our focus throughout and execute the plans on the pitch,” said Fraile.

A win for either can help the teams climb up a few positions but a defeat for Neroca FC would trigger a steep fall on the points table.

I-League 2018/19: Mohun Bagan remain winless at home

KOLKATA: Sony Norde’s goal was cancelled out by Nestor Gordillo’s late strike as Mohun Bagan were held to a 1-1 draw by Chennai City FC in their 2018/19 I-League encounter on Saturday at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan.

On the balance of play, Mohun Bagan will feel they should have sneaked it as they dominated proceedings and created better goal-scoring chances in front of their home fans.

They will surely be kicking themselves for not burying numerous goal-scoring opportunities they created, especially in the opening stages of the encounter.

But in the end, the result was perhaps a fair reflection of the action on show. Both teams had periods of dominance and both had numerous scoring opportunities.

The game got off to a lively opening five minutes, with Mohun Bagan impressing with some neat football.

Sankarlal Chakraborty’s charges played with verve and used a short, sharp passing style to get beyond the Chennai City defense.

During one such attack, Sony created a moment of uncertainty in the Chennai City penalty area, but, fortunately, Chennai City defenders were able to clear the danger.

But once things settled down, both teams made sure they kept things tight and compact. Both defenses were organised and kept shape, and scoring chances were few and far between.

Nonetheless, Mohun Bagan gave a good account of themselves in the later stages of the first-half, and should have easily went into the half-time break two or three goals up.

Chennai City, on the other hand, sat back and tried to catch them on the counter, but in the end, both teams went into the break locked at 0-0.

The game burst into life after the interval. Chennai City goalkeeper Nauzet Santana was called into action in the first minute of the second-half and pulled off a stunning safe to deny Henry Kisekka.

Mariners were all over Chennai City and asking more and more questions. Santana produced another glorious save to keep Sankarlal Chakraboty’s charges at bay when he denied Pintu Mahata in a one-on-one inside the box, diving full length to stop the ball from going in.

But the pressure eventually told and Mohun Bagan stormed into the lead when Sony slotted from close range in the 50th minute after receiving the ball from midfield.

The setback served to awaken Chennai City from their slumber and they threw players forward with abandon, in search of an equalizer.

Alexander Jesuraj whipped a shot over the bar and Sandro Rodriguez was desperately unlucky when his goal-bound effort was blocked by the Mohun Bagan defense.

In the 74th minute substitute Ameerudeen Mohaideen was denied by the post on the left as hosts Mohun Bagan managed to hold on.

Again, though, the relentless pressure had an effect, and it was Nestor who got the all-important goal in the 81st minute to level the score for Chennai City.

Having scored, Chennai City showed more endeavour in attack and it took everything Mohun Bagan had left in their tank to deny the onslaught from Chennai City. Goalkeeper Sankar Roy also made a number of telling saves to a salvage a point for his side.

Following the draw, Chennai City continued to lead the log standings with 17 points from 7 matches while Mohun Bagan remain on fourth spot with 9 points from 6 matches.

I-League 2018/19: Njoku steals crucial victory for champions against Arrows

1st December, Panchkula: Match 30 of 2018/19 I-League saw defending champions Minerva Punjab FC defeat Indian Arrows by a solitary goal at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium, Panchkula. Philip Njoku of Minerva Punjab FC who scored the winning goal was adjudged the Hero of the match.

The game began with Minerva Punjab FC playing in white and blue while visitors Indian Arrows playing in orange. The young colts of the Arrows showed their intent right from the start pressing hard but the experience and greater physical strength of Minerva Punjab FC’s defensive line ensured that the Arrows could not create much of a threat inside the box.

Arrows, however, were the side with a higher possession but the young forward line wasn’t able to create any good clear opportunity throughout the first 45 minutes.

Both the teams had two shots each on the goal though the defending champions were the ones who had the closest chance at scoring when their Ghanian forward William Opoku failed to find the back of the net in the dying seconds of the first half.

After the break, Arrows’ first clear chance came in the 49th minute when Rahul KP took a deft attempt at the goal but Arshdeep made a valiant save to deny Indian Arrows a lead.

Indian Arrows breached the Minervan defence line a few times after that but weren’t successful in converting those chances.

Nigerian Philip Njoku had the cleanest chance to give Minerva Punjab FC the lead in the 59th minute but his outstretched hand on the face of Indian Arrows goalkeeper Prabhsukan Gill wasn’t overlooked by the referee to rule it a foul on the goalie. Even though the ball found the back of the net, it got cancelled because of the decision.

Rahul KP of Indian Arrows again missed a fine chance when his beautiful run beating Lancine Toure and Columbian Caicedo Rodriguez missed the goal from a handshaking distance in the 68th minute.

The Arrows looked a more composed and organized team today but their defence was breached in the 74th minute when Philip Njoku took an advantage of a muddle between Prabsukhan Gill and the fellow defender to poke the eventual winning goal for the hosts.

The game thereafter saw both teams making numerous attempts on either side but a lack of a good finishing move saw the game wrapping up 1-0 in the favour of the Punjab-based outfit.