Pedro Manzi and Willis Plaza are joint top scorers in the 2018/19 I-League season with 13 goals each. However, Manzi’s team, Chennai City FC, are five points clear of Churchill Brothers SC and Real Kashmir FC at the top of the table.
Manzi wondergoal the pick off seven goals at Coimbatore
FULL-TIME: Chennai City FC 4- 3 Aizawl FC
CHENNAI CITY: Sandro Rodriguez (28′,69′); Pedro Manzi (60’;80’); AIZAWL FC: Albert Zohmingmawia (37′); Isak Vanlalruatfela (90+1’); Lalkhawpuimawia (90+2’)
Chennai City FC’s Spanish Armada, Pedro Manzi, and Sandro Rodriguez scored a brace to enable the league leaders to beat Aizawl FC 4-3 at the Nehru Stadium, Coimbatore.
The win puts Chennai five points clear at the top of the I-League table.
The goal-fest began in the 28th minute. Pravitto Raju carried the ball on the right flank before cutting it back for Nestor. The Spaniard left the ball for an onrushing Sandro, who shot from out of the box to beat Gurpreet. The Aizawl goalkeeper’s shoddy attempt to palm the ball gifted the home team the lead.
In the 37th minute, Alfred Jaryan muscled his way through the Chennai midfield. After a quick one-two with Kasagga and the Aizawl skipper found Albert’s darting run into the box from the right. The youngster slotted the ball between Santana’s legs to equalize.
The game was evenly poised until the hour-mark. Aizawl’s Zikahi Dodoz had fluffed two good opportunities to score, while Romario missed a good chance for Chennai in the 58th minute.
In the 60th minute, Pedro Manzi turned the match on its head. A clearance by Romario from the Chennai back-line fell in front of Manzi just inside the Aizawl half towards the touchline on the right flank. The Spaniard took a touch forward, saw Gurpreet off his line, and fired in from 40 yards to leave the Aizawl goalie stranded.
" Footballing God will forgive you, if you leave your partner for this goal ", the commentator screamed…
— Chennai City FC (@ChennaiCityFC) January 19, 2019
Sandro made it 3-1 in the 69th minute. A freekick from the left beat Gurpreet all ends up. The Aizawl goalie with another poor attempt in palming the away.
Another member of Chennai Spanish quartet, Nestor got into the act. Upon receiving the ball from Manzi, he slid the ball in between the Aizawl defense for Manzi. The Spaniard calmly chipped the over the onrushing keeper for this 13th goal of the season. 4-1 in the 80th minute.
Game over? No, not quite.
In five minutes of injury time, Aizawl threatened to script a comeback. In the 91st minute, Isaac controlled a second ball off a corner, created inside the penalty area and curled the ball over Santana to make it 4-2. The next minute later, Mapuia latched on to a pass from Jayran and unleashed stinger past Santana.
It was a little too late in the end for the visitors as Chennai consolidated their position at the top.
The win takes Chennai City FC to 30 points, with a five-point lead over their closest rivals. For Aizawl, they are on 10 points, six clear of the relegation spot.
Romario strikes to sink East Bengal
FULL-TIME: Chennai City FC 2- 1 East Bengal FC
CHENNAI CITY FC: Pedro Manzi (48’); Romario Jesuraj (70’); EAST BENGAL FC: Lalrindika Ralte (9′)
Earlier in the week, Chennai City FC beat East Bengal 2-1 at the Nehru Stadium, Coimbatore.
The visitors went ahead in the ninth minute when East Bengal defender, Borja, headed the corner across the post to allow Lalrindika Ralte to nod home from close range.
Chennai City upped the ante to dominate the rest of the half. Nestor and Roberto Eslava combining well before Samad shielding the former away from the ball to deny a goal-scoring opportunity. Sandro’s drive from outside the box had the East Bengal keeper, Rakshit Dagar, producing a good save.
After the break, Pedro Manzi equalized within three minutes. Romario Jesuraj cut in from the right flank and pulled the ball back to Edwin Vanspaul. The effort towards goal was deflected onto the path of the Spaniard, who wrong-footed Dagar to equalize.
The hosts then went ahead in the 70th minute. Raju collected the ball on the right flank after East Bengal left back Manoj Mohammad failed to intercept and cut inside to lay it off for Romario on top of the box. The shot found the right corner of the net.
Earlier in the season, Chennai City had beaten East Bengal with the same scoreline in Kolkata.
Arrows bow to Colado strike
FULL-TIME: East Bengal FC 1- 0 Indian Arrows
EAST BENGAL: Jamie Santos Colado (48)
East Bengal FC shrugged off the defeat to Chennai City FC, with a 1-0 win over Indian Arrows at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata.
A 48th-minute strike by Jamie Santos Colado helped the Kolkata giant climb to fourth place in the league.
The Spaniard was at the center of East Bengal’s attacks in the first half. Santos had the first shot at goal in the 12th minute, but his attempt was off target. He set up Jobby Justin from the right but the striker’s header could not beat Prabhsukhan Gill in the Arrows goal.
At the start of the second half, the home team scored. Jobby Justin shrugged off a defender before sending a ball back towards the penalty spot from the touchline. The ball was not dealt with by the Arrows defenders before Colado stabbed home from close.
East Bengal defense kept the Arrows attack at bay. However, left-back Manoj Mohammad received a second yellow card in injury time.
The Kolkata giants now have 22 points with one game in hand. Next week they face Mohun Bagan in the Kolkata Derby.
Meanwhile, Arrows remain at eighth position with 13 points.
Minerva’s Jorge Rodriguez scores at both ends in 1-1 draw
FULL-TIME: Minerva Punjab FC 1- 1 Gokulam Kerala FC
Minerva Punjab: Jorge Rodriguez (90+4); GOKULAM KERALA: Jorge Rodriguez (82’ [OG])
Defending champions Minerva Punjab left it late to salvage a point against Gokulam Kerala 1-1 at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium, Panchkula.
The visitors Gokulam Kerala FC drew first blood in the 82nd minute through debutant Marcus Joseph. A goal from Musa Caicedo in the fourth and final minute of added time enabled Minerva Punjab to equalize.
The match was off to a fiery start. Pritam Singh found the back of the net in the 2nd minute but was disallowed owing to a handball ball. A controversial call early in the match.
Minerva was down to ten men in the 19th minute. A back pass from Muirang was challenged by Gokulam keeper Arnab Das and Zacharie. The goalie came off worse from the challenge and the referee sent off the Minerva forward.
The match reached a boiling point in the 72nd minute when Gokulam’s Guilherme Batata attempted to push Minerva’s Prabhjot Singh off the playing area. The latter was lying injured on the sidelines when the incident occurred. The referee was quick to diffuse the situation
Although Gokulam Kerala enjoyed better possession against the 10-man Minerva, it was only at the 82nd minute when the visitors broke the deadlock. Trinidadian Joseph turning a cross from the left flank and the ball hit Minerva defender, Jorge Rodriguez, as the ball rolled into the net.
Minerva equalized in the third minute of injury time. Souvik Das crossed the ball from the right into the Gokulam penalty box. Moinuddin headed the ball across the net, the ball came off a Gokulam defender before Jorge Rodriguez heading in to make it 1-1.
Minerva is in seventh place with 14 points, while Gokulam is in eighth place with 13 points.
Snow Leopards tame Red Dragons with a solitary goal
FULL-TIME: Shillong Lajong FC 0- 1 Real Kashmir FC
REAL KASHMIR FC: Aaron Katebe (74′)
Real Kashmir FC notched up a 1-0 win against bottom-placed Shillong Lajong at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Shillong.
Kashmir’s Zambian defender, Aaron Katebe, scored the winner in the 74th minute to put his team in the third spot.
The home side dominated possession in the first half and came close to scoring with Samuel Lyngdoh’s volley sailing over the goal in the fifth minute.
Despite some good play, the young hosts were unable to make it count in the final third.
After the break, it was all Real Kashmir but Lajong stayed in the game thanks to some good goalkeeping by Phurba Lachenpa.
Real Kashmir scored in the 74th minute. A corner delivery by Surchandra Singh was met by Loveday Okechukwu at the far post. The header back towards the center of the goal was met by his defensive partner Katebe from close.
Mason Robertson had a couple of opportunities to double the scoreline, but Lachenpa was at task to keep the scoreline down.
In injury time, Kitboklang Pale had the opportunity to snatch a point. Naorem Mahesh Singh made a good run into the Kashmir box and pulled back the ball. Sheen Sokhtung and Kitboklang came in each other’s way before the striker shot wide.
Real Kashmir is in third place with 25 points, while Lajong suffered their 11th loss of the season.
Plaza at the double for Churchill
FULL-TIME: Churchill Brothers FC 2- 1 NEROCA FC
CHURCHILL BROTHERS: Willis Plaza (85′,90+1′); NEROCA: Kallon Kiatamba (24′)
Churchill Brothers SC struck twice in the final five minutes to beat NEROCA FC 2-1 at the Tilak Maidan Stadium.
With both teams aiming to keep pace with league leaders, Chennai City FC, the match turned out to be an exciting affair.
Churchill’s target man, Willis Plaza, latched on to a defensive error 13th minute. He shrugged off his Kallon Kiatamba but his shot narrowly missed the target.
However, it was the visitors who went ahead against the run of play. A free kick delivery by Malem was turned in by Liberian defender Kallon from close range. 0-1 in the 24th minute.
Five minutes later, Dawda Cessay got at the end of an Anthony Wolfe pass, but his header went over the bar. In the 40th minute, the home side came close to scoring twice. A Richard Costa shot from inside the box was deflected wide of the post. From the resulting corner, which was taken short, Dawda Cessay’s goal-bound effort was saved by Lalit Thapa in the NEROCA goal.
At the start of the second half, Katsumi Yusa should have doubled the lead. A good run by Subhash on the left flank found the Japanese, who had lost his marker. However, the winger’s angled header failed to hit the target.
In the 67th minute, Katsumi had a sight on goal courtesy a pass from Felix Chidi. A heavy first touch allowed Kithan to collect the ball off the winger’s feet. Malem’s free-kick in the 72nd minute missed the inside of the post by inches.
It was all NEROCA FC, who looked likely to score. But Willis Plaza had other ideas.
In the 85th minute, Dawda Cessay spotted Plaza’s run between two NEROCA defenders. The Trinidadian placed his left-footed effort past Thapa to make it 1-1.
In the first minute of the added time, Israil Gurung floated in a corner and Plaza outjumped his marker at the near post to find the back of the net to spark off wild celebrations in the Goan camp.
Churchill Brothers SC is in second place with 25 points, while NEROCA FC slipped to the fifth position with 21 points after consecutive losses on the road.
Plaza and Chennai City’s Pedro Manzi top the I-League goalscoring charts with 13 goals each. Surely, the championship will hinge on the goalscoring prowess of the two strikers.