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I-League 2018/19 Roundup: Matchday 11 [28/12-30/12]

I-League Matchday 11
Sharp Shooter: Churchill Brothers striker Willis Plaza is
on top of the I-League scoring charts with nine goals.
Photo Courtesy: @ILeagueOfficial

Chennai City FC is on top of the I-League, while Real Kashmir FC and NEROCA FC are three points behind. Churchill Brothers and East Bengal are also in the hunt.

Manzi hattrick as Chennai inflict tennis score on Lajong

FULL-TIME: Chennai City FC 6- 1 Shillong Lajong FC

Chennai City: Nestor Gordillo (12′,70′); Roberto Eslava (38′); Pedro Manzi (49′,78′,80′ [P]); Shillong Lajong: Samuel Lalmuanpuia (53′)

Chennai City’s Spanish striker Pedro Manzi struck his second hat-trick of the season to help Chennai City FC thrash Shillong Lajong 6-1 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Coimbatore.

In a free-flowing match, Chennai City FC’s goals were scored by three of their Spanish quartet: Nestor Jesus, Roberto Eslava, and Pedro Manzi.

Chennai went ahead in the 12th minute. Sandro Rodriguez drilled a free-kick was into the Lajong box from the right flank. Nestor’s snap-shot hit the underside of the bar and bounced across the goal line. The linesman making the correct decision to give Chennai the lead.

Lajong held their own for most of the half before Roberto Eslava pounced on a free header off a Sandro Rodriguez corner in the 38th minute. Lajong defence was at sixes and sevens.

After the break, Manzi scored his first of the game in the 49th minute. Lajong skipper, Samuel Lalmuanpuia, lost the ball inside his own half. Edwin Vanspaul fed the ball to Manzi, who beat Lajong’s offside trap easily before chipping it past Lachenpa.

It was also Edwin’s first of three assists on the day.

Samuel Lalmuanpuia made amends for his mistake four minutes later. A cracking freekick from 30 yards beat the Chennai keeper Santana. The youngster’s impressive showing will surely catch the eye of the bigger clubs.

In the space of 11 minutes, the match was done and dusted.

In the 69th minute, Nestor Jesus latched onto a clever pass from Edwin and the Spaniard curled it past the onrushing goalie. Nine minutes later, Edwin found Manzi inside the box with a lovely chip, which the Spaniard brought down with his thigh and volleyed on the turn to make it 5-1.

In the 80th minute, Edwin played a part in yet another goal, when he was brought down inside the box and Manzi stepped up to the spot. Phurba Lachempa got a hand to the ball but could prevent the ball from crossing the line. 6-1 to the home team.

The lights at the stadium went out for a few minutes, but it was their star man Manzi who stood out in the dark. The four Spaniards of Chennai City have now scored 18 of team’s 22 goals so far.

Chennai City FC is at the top of the table with 21 points from 10 games played, while Shillong Lajong FC remains at the bottom of the table and looking most likely to get relegated.

Click here to watch highlights of the game.

NEROCA FC stay in the hunt with 2-1 win over Mohun Bagan

FULL-TIME: NEROCA FC 2- 1 Mohun Bagan AC

NEROCA FC: Eduardo Ferreira (24′); Aryn Williams (69′);  Mohun Bagan AC: Henry Kisseka (63′)

NEROCA FC beat Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan AC 2-1 at the Khuman Lampak Main Stadium, Imphal. Last year’s runners-up hosted the Kolkata giants in front of their boisterous supporters.

Mohun Bagan began the match on the offensive, fashioning a couple of half chances. However, the home team took the lead in the 24th minute.

Former Bagan midfielder Katsumi Yusa floated in a corner and Brazilian defender, Eduardo, nodded in a header from the near post past Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Sankar Roy. The Japanese chalked up his third assist of the season.

The combination of Subash Singh and Katsumi troubled the Bagan defense in the second half. The former missing the target after the Japanese played him in on the right side of the Bagan penalty box in the 60th minute.

Bagan equalized through Henry Kisekka header in the 63rd minute. The flight of the cross by Caldeira from the left was poorly judged by Lalit Thapa. The NEROCA custodian rushed out to punch the ball, only to leave the Ugandan striker an easy nod in after outjumping his marker.

Bagan’s hopes of a comeback were dashed six minutes later off another set piece.

A corner kick was half cleared by the Sankar Roy. Subash Singh struck the ball goalwards from the edge of the box. NEROCA’s Australian midfielder Aryn Williams stuck his foot out and the ball crept past two Bagan defenders.

NEROCA could have wrapped up the game when Malem was fed into the Bagan box by Katsumi. However, his lobbed attempt fell way over the goal.

The result takes NEROCA to 18 points, three behind table-toppers Chennai City FC. Bagan remains in fifth place with 15 points from 10 games.

Click here to watch highlights of the game.

Real Kashmir’s fairytale run continues

FULL-TIME: East Bengal FC 1- 1 Real Kashmir FC

East Bengal FC: Jobby Justin (56′); Real Kashmir FC: Lalramchullova [OG] (46′)

Real Kashmir FC topped the I-league table for a day after a 1-1 draw against East Bengal at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata.

The first half was uneventful with the Real Kashmir team sitting back and nullifying the East Bengal attack. Jobby Justin had a sniff at goal in the 20th minute, but Kashmir goalie, Bilal Husain Khan, was at hand to cut out the danger. For Kashmir, Kofi Tetteh’s attempted lob was tipped over by East Bengal custodian Rakshit Dagar.

The start of the second half was a different story. 10 seconds after the restart, Real Kashmir winger, Surchandra Singh, found space on the right-hand flank and sent in a cross. Lalramchullova attempt at clearing the ball resulted in him putting the ball into his own net.

1-0 to the visitors.

The hosts drew level within 10 minutes. Kassim Aidara head a corner delivery goalwards. Danish Farooq managed made a goalline clearance, but with Jonny Acosta rushing in the ball fell kindly to Jobby Justin. The forward stabbed the ball home amidst the melee.

East Bengal could not break down Kashmir’s resolute defense as the hosts were restricted to long-range shots.

Real Kashmir FC is at second spot with 18 points, courtesy a better superior goal difference ahead of NEROCA. East Bengal is in the fifth spot with the result, five points off the top with a game in hand.

Click here to watch highlights of the game.

Plaza on target as Churchill blunt Arrows

FULL-TIME: Indian Arrows 0- 1 Churchill Brothers SC

Churchill Brothers: Willis Plaza (40′)

Top scorer Willis Plaza scored the only goal of the match to help Churchill Brothers beat Indian Arrows at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar.

Churchill Brothers started the game strongly with Plaza having a go in the fourth minute. The fired in a powerful effort from the edge of the box. The Arrows goalie, Prabhsukhan Gill,  had to produce a diving save.

However, when it appeared that the first half would end goalless, the Goan team scored the opening goal in the 40th minute.

A long ball was played into the Arrows penalty box. Jitendra Singh mistimed his clearance, which fell kindly to Plaza and he made no mistake in slotting the ball home.

Plaza did not take to the pitch in the second half due to an injury concern. Fellow Trinidadian Anthony Wolfe replaced him.

In the 54th minute, Wolfe had a chance to extend his side’s lead after he beat Jitendra and Asish Rai down the left, but Gill made a save after taking the ball off the attacker’s feet.

The Arrows team had a chance to equalize in the 74th minute. A cross by Boris caused chaos in the Churchill defense. The loose ball fell to Anwar Ali inside the penalty area but his effort went just over the bar.

The Goan side held firm to maintain a clean sheet and pick up all three points. The win takes Churchill Brothers to fourth place, while Indian Arrows are on tenth place.

Aizawl FC win after three matches; Misery for Gokulam Kerala

FULL-TIME: Aizawl FC 3- 2 Gokulam Kerala FC

Aizawl FC: Kromah (51′); Lalkhawpuimawia (63′); Rochharzela (70′); Gokulam Kerala FC: Joel Sunday (90+3′, 90+4′ [P])

Former champions Aizawl FC overcame a late charge to beat Gokulam Kerala FC 3-2 at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Aizawl.

Aizawl had the better of the chances in the first half when Lalkhawpuimawia could not guide his header goalwards early on. Left-back Vanlalthanga tested Kerala goalie Kunniyal with a long-range effort from 35 yards, while Kromah could not connect to a pass from Chhara in the six-yard box.

The second half was a high-scoring affair.

Aizawl scored the first goal in the 51st minute through Ansumana Kromah. Left-back Vanlalthanga’s clearance was not dealt with by the Gokulam defenders. The Liberian lost his marker to slot the ball home.

In the 63rd minute, Lalkhawpuimawia latched on to a defense-splitting pass by Rinchhana and calmly scored his team’s second.

Aizawl scored their third in the 70th minute when Rochharzela dribbled past the Kerala defense and put the ball past Kunniyil.

Gokulam had a late fightback by scoring two goals in added time. Joel Sunday scored in the 93rd minute and a minute later Hmingthanga was adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty area.

Joel Sunday stepped up to the spot and converted the penalty to make it 3-2. It was little too late as the referee blew the final whistle.

The win takes Aizawl within a point behind Kerala. The home team now in ninth place, while Kerala occupies the eight spot and is winless in five matches. There have been reports of Gokulam defender Fabricio Ortiz parting ways with the club.

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