Chennai City FC, East Bengal FC, and Shillong Lajong FC bagged three points each in the opening round of the 2018/19 I-League season. However, the biggest winner was the league, as the clubs registered record attendances on Matchday 1.
Chennai City blunt Indian Arrows
FULL-TIME: Chennai City FC 4-1 Indian Arrows
Chennai City FC: Pedro Javier Manzi Cruz (32′, 49′, 64′ [P]); Indian Arrows: Amarijit Singh Kiyam (2′)
Spanish striker Pedro Manzi struck a hat-trick to help Chennai City FC outplay Indian Arrows 4-1 in the opening match of the 12th I-League at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Coimbatore.
It was Indian Arrows who fired the first salvo when their captain, Amarjit Singh Kiyam, opened the scoring in the second minute.
Undeterred by going a goal down, Chennai City took control of the match and were rewarded in the 31st minute when Pedro scored from a narrow angle.
After the break, Pedro powered through to put Chennai ahead in the 49th minute. The Spaniard got his hattrick in the 64th minute from the spot.
Romario Jesuraj scored the fourth for Chennai in the 76th minute snuff out all hope of an Arrows comeback.
Esqueda brace blanks NEROCA
FULL-TIME: NEROCA FC 0-2 East Bengal
East Bengal: Enrique Esqueda (10′, 48′ [P])
East Bengal clinched a comfortable 2-0 win over NEROCA FC at Khuman Lampak Main Stadium, Imphal.
Enrique Esqueda scored a brace for the Red and Gold. The first goal came in the 10th minute when the Mexican latched on a non-clearance inside the NEROCA box. He doubled the lead in the 48th minute from the spot.
Former East Bengal player, Yusa Katsumi was on the receiving end of multiple fouls which contributed to frayed tempers from both sides.
The Japanese had to be substituted at half-time and the goal early in the second effectively sealed the deal for the Kolkata club.
Gokulam and Mohun Bagan split points
FULL-TIME: Gokulam Kerala FC 1-1 Mohun Bagan
Gokulam Kerala: Lalchawnkoma (71′ [OG]); Mohun Bagan: Henry Kisekka (40′)
Gokulam Kerala FC and Mohun Bagan AC played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at EMS Corporation Stadium, Kozhikode.
To use the old adage, this was truly a game of two halves.
After initial hiccups, the Mariners settled into a rhythm and began to create goalscoring opportunities. Their persistence paid off in the 40th minute when Henry Kisseka headed in a freekick delivery from Arijit Bagui.
The hosts improved their performance in the second half and were rewarded with the equalizer in the 72nd minute. In an attempt to clear the ball, Bagan defender Lalchhawnkima headed the ball into his own net.
In the end, both teams had to contend with a draw.
Goalless between Minerva Punjab and Churchill Brothers
FULL-TIME: Minerva Punjab FC 0-0 Churchill Brothers SC
Defending champions, Minerva Punjab, played out a goalless draw against Churchill Brothers at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium.
Both teams were left to rue their chances, especially Uttam Rai of Churchill Brothers. The attacker was subbed in for Willis Plaza and had the opportunity to steal three points when he got a sight of goal. However, his volley was hit straight to the Minerva goalie, Bhaskar Roy.
Shillong’s Youngsters stun Aizawl FC
FULL-TIME: Shillong Lajong 2-1 Aizawl FC
Shillong Lajong: Naorem Mahesh Singh (20′, 51′); Aizawl FC: Ansumana Kromah (70′ [P])
The match of the round was the first NorthEast Derby of the season. A brace by Naorem Mahesh Singh helped Shillong Lajong register a win over Aizawl FC at in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Shillong.
Mahesh Singh sent the home crowd into raptures in the 20th minute. The winger received the ball from Novin Gurung on the right flank, side-stepped a defender, and unleashed a curler.
Shillong 1 – Aizawl 0. The team consisting of nine U-22 players were in the lead.
Aizawl began to ascertain more control over the game but was left with a mountain to climb In the 51st minute. A cross from Rakesh Pradhan from the left flank was met by Mahesh to double the lead.
Aizawl pulled one back in the 70th minute when Liberian striker, Ansumanah Kromah, converted from the spot. However, the Shillong defense absorbed the pressure to walk away with three points.
Real Kashmir to debut in Round Two
Real Kashmir will make their I-League debut when they travel to Minerva Punjab. Meanwhile, Gokulam will make the long trip to Imphal to face NEROCA FC.
Both matches will kick off at 2 p.m. on Oct. 31
The following day, East Bengal will play their second match in the northeast as they travel to Shillong Lajong for the 2 p.m. kickoff on Nov. 1.
The 5 p.m. kickoff will feature the match between Chennai City and Churchill Brothers.
The final match of the round will take place on Nov. 3, when former champions Mohun Bagan and Aizawl FC clash in Kolkata.
Indian Arrows are the benefactors of gaining the extra few days of rest.