Real Kashmir FC registered a win on their I-League debut. East Bengal picks up another three points on the road. Meanwhile, Mohun Bagan, Chennai City, and NEROCA fail to pick up three points at home.
Dream start for Real Kashmir FC
FULL-TIME: Minerva Punjab FC 0-1 Real Kashmir FC
Real Kashmir: Gnohere Krizo (74′)
Real Kashmir FC registered a win on debut against Minerva FC at the Tau Devi Lal stadium in Panchkula.
Gnohere Krizo’s 74th-minute strike was enough to stun the defending champions in a sensational start to its I-League campaign.
In a tight affair, Minerva paid for its wastefulness in front of goal. At the quarter of an hour mark, William Opoku had a chance to put Minerva ahead, only for Kashmir goalkeeper Bilal to bring about the first of his many good saves on the day to deny Minerva any advantage.
Minerva had a sense of urgency at the start of the second half as they conjured up two excellent scoring chances. Minerva coach, Munster, brought in pacy youngsters like Nongdamba Naorem, Dilliram Sanyasi and Hitova Ayemi. Real Kashmir coach, Robertson, responded by bolstering his midfield with the introduction of Vicky Meitei.
A midfielder in place of a defender. A bold choice which paid dividends in the 74th minute.
Upon receiving a ball off a freekick, Krozi held the ball inside the Minerva box. His turn and shot drive beat Minerva goalie Bhaskar Roy at the near post. They almost added a second a few minutes later, only for the woodwork to deny Katebe.
Towards the end of the match, frustration crept into the Minerva side and goalkeeper Roy was seen getting into a scuffle with his own teammate Toure.
NEROCA-Gokulam play out a draw
FULL-TIME: NEROCA FC 1-1 Gokulam Kerala FC
NEROCA FC: Eduardo Ferreira (59′); Gokulam Kerala: Boaringdao Bodo (45′)
In the 35th minute, Gokulam brought in the local lad Boaringdao Bodo in place of Rashid. The move paid dividends as the former Minerva FC player found the back of the net at the stroke of half-time.
In the 59th minute, a freekick delivery by Subash Singh was met by Yendrembam Metei. The midfielder put the ball in for Malembgamba, who in turn slipped it towards goal where Ferreira was at hand to score. Gokulam wasted chances to retake the lead, both Antonio German and Bodo scuffing their shots.After Round Two, NEROCA FC has a point from two games while Gokulam Kerala has two from as many games.
Jobby Justin eases East Bengal to another win
FULL-TIME: Shillong Lajong FC 1-3 East Bengal FC
Shillong Lajong: Rakesh Pradhan (71′); East Bengal: Jobby Justin (12′, 41′), K.B. Singh (74′)
East Bengal registered their second straight victory at the start of the I-League season as they beat Shillong Lajong 3-1 at the Jawahar Lal Nehru stadium in Shillong.
Despite their attractive, flowing football, the inexperience of having nine U-22 players in the Lajong lineup was on display. The home team was on the attack from the start. Captain Samuel Lalmuanpuia’s free-kick hit the East Bengal woodwork, with East Bengal Rakshit Dagar soundly beaten.
East Bengal who took the lead against the run of play. Striker Jobby Justin connected with Lalrindika Ralte’s free-kick to give the Kolkata outfit the lead in the 12th minute.
Riding on a brace by striker Jobby Justin, East Bengal went into the halftime with a 2-0 lead. Lajong struck back through left wing-back Rakesh Pradhan but Bidyasagar Singh scored another for East Bengal to bring up a comfortable victory.
Lajong responded admirably and put East Bengal under sustained pressure with a series of attacks. However, in the 41st minute when East Bengal doubled the lead from a counter attack. Justin heading in his second goal of the match.
Lajong got a goal back in the 71st minute through Rakesh Pradhan. The left wing-back header in a corner off Hnamte corner.
The home team’s joy was shortlived when Bidyasagar Singh restored the two-goal lead in the 74th minute.
East Bengal tops the table with six points from two matches, while Lajong remained on fourth with three points.
Churchill Brothers & Chennai City play out a 2-2 draw
FULL-TIME: Chennai City FC 2-2 Churchill Brothers
Chennai City: Nestor (9′), Wayne Vaz (62′ [OG]); Churchill Brothers: Nenad Novakovic (51′), Israil Gurung (58′)
Churchill Brothers held hosts Chennai City FC to a 2-2 draw at Coimbatore’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
Spaniard Nestor Jesus opened the scoring for the home team as early as the ninth minute, after playing a one-two with Pedro Manzi.
The second half was characterized by 12 minutes of action. Churchill’s Serbian defender Nenad Novakovic headed Israil Gurung’s corner kick to equalize in the 51st minute.
Gurung got his name in the scoresheet seven minutes later. An error by Chennai goalie, Kabir, spilled the ball right into the feet of Israil Gurung who did take his chance with aplomb.
Chennai City restored parity within four minutes. Spanish midfielder Sandro Rodriguez had time to turn his marker and slam the ball towards the Churchill goal. The ball eluded James Kithan on the near post and went in after hitting Churchill defender Wayne Vaz’s chest.
The Goan outfit remains unbeaten in both their opening games on the road, while Chennai has picked up four points from two home matches.
Lalrinmuana’s brilliance deny Mohun Bagan win
FULL-TIME: Mohun Bagan ASC 2-2 Aizawl FC
Mohun Bagan AC: Lalchawnkima (44′), Sony Norde (69′); Aizawl FC: Lalkhawpuimawia (29′), David Lalrinmuana (90+’)
A brilliant freekick by David Lalrinmuana in the 93rd minute salvaged a point for Aizawl FC against Mohun Bagan at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata.
The former Mohun Bagan Academy graduate curled in a freekick into the top corner from 32 yards to stun the home crowd.
Aizawl FC drew first blood through Lalkhawpuimawia in the 29th minute. However, his fellow Mizo, Lalchhanhima, equalized for the home team in the 43rd minute with a brilliant strike.
Mohun Bagan coach Shankarlal Chakraborty introduced crowd favorite Sony Norde in the 64th minute. The Haitian did not disappoint as he scored off a sizzling solo effort to give Bagan the lead in the 69th minute. Norde beat the Aizawl defense from the left flank and slammed the ball into the far corner of the net from an angle.
The Mariners looked set to gain their first win of the season. David Lalrinmuana, however, had other ideas.
Mohun Bagan’s second successive draw has left them at fifth place on two points. Aizawl FC chalked up their first point of the season following their loss to Shillong Lajong FC in the opener.
Derbies (of sorts) galore in Round Three
In the third round of the I-League, the “Home Ground at Tier-II Southern Cities Derby” takes place at Kozhikode as Gokulam Kerala host Coimbatore-based Chennai City FC.
The “No-Foreigners Derby” is also scheduled at Bhubaneshwar, when Indian Arrows hosts Shillong Lajong. Both teams do not have any foreign recruits in their squad.
The “Indian Tourism Spots Derby” will take place in Srinagar, when Real Kashmir welcomes Churchill Brothers for their first-ever I-League match at the TRC Turf Ground.
The second “NorthEast Derby” is scheduled between Aizawl FC and NEROCA FC at Aizawl.
Finally, the “States Split Between India & Pakistan Derby” between East Bengal and Minerva Punjab will wrap up the third round. (Okay we really had to stretch for this one, but we got there in the end).
Mohun Bagan AC will sit out this round.