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I-League 2018/19 Roundup: Matchday 16 [05/02-09/02]

I-League Matchday 16
Worth his weight in gold: East Bengal FC players celebrate after Enrique Esqueda (#9) scored
his second goal against NEROCA FC in the 2018/19 I-League match at the Salt Lake Stadium.
Photo Courtesy:@ILeagueOfficial

Chennai City FC continues their reign at the top in the 2018/19 I-League season, while Churchill Brothers SC miss out on keeping pace at the top. Real Kashmir FC is in second place with a narrow win over Gokulam. Esqueda helps East Bengal FC pull off a 2-1 against NEROCA FC.

Professional Chennai teaches young Arrows the art of winning

FULL TIME: Indian Arrows 0- 2 Chennai City FC
CHENNAI CITY: (Sandro 71′, Vijay N 90’+1)

Chennai City FC continues to top the I-League point’s table after a professional 2-0 win over Indian Arrows at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar.

Having started the game on an attacking note, the visitors attacked mostly from the right flank and came close to scoring twice in the first half.

First, a header from Manzi was called off-side and Jitendra almost heading in an own goal after some confusion in their own penalty area. However, Mitra was alert to save the team from embarrassment. Moments later, Chennai City came close with another opportunity to score from a corner kick but Mitra denied the visitors from taking the lead to keep the first half goalless.

As the game entered the final quarter, the visitors pushed harder to break the deadlock. Their efforts paid dividends when a tackle in the 71st minute from Indian Arrows from the edge of the box, led to a yellow card for Suresh Singh, gifting the visitors a free kick from a dangerous spot.

Chennai’s Spanish midfielder Sandro made no mistakes thereafter, as he stole the opportunity, ensuring that this time the ball sailed into the goal. Chennai City changed gears and went on a defensive mode to shut out the Arrows attack.

The visitors put the game to bed in the first minute of the added time when substitute Vijay N scored the second goal on a rebound to seal the three points.

With this win, Chennai City FC remains at the top of the table with 33 points, while Arrows are in the seventh place with 16 points.

Punjab slip further against young Indians

FULL TIME: Indian Arrows 2- 1 Minerva Punjab FC
INDIAN ARROWS: (Rohit Danu 38’, Rahim Ali 46’); MINERVA PUNJAB: (Moinuddin 68’)

Earlier in the week, Indian Arrows beat struggling Minerva Punjab FC 2-1 at Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Stadium.

Goals from Rohit Danu in the first half and Rahim Ali in the second ensured that Moinuddin’s 68th-minute strike for the Champions went in vain. Rahim Ali was declared Hero of the Match, for the scoring the second insurance goal for his team.

The visiting side dominated possession in the first half but Arrows had better scoring opportunities.

Arrows captain Amarjeet Kiyam hit the crossbar from long-range in the 38th minute. Rohit Danu was at hand to head home the rebound. 1-0 to the hosts.

After the break, the Arrows team got off to a fast start. Rahim Ali slotting the ball past keeper Arshdeep in the Minerva goal off a good move which was initiated by Rohit Danu.

Minerva began to show some urgency and dominated both possession and play from here on end. Substitute Moinuddin, scored a stunner of a goal from the edge of the Arrows box to a hapless Prabhsukan Gill in goal and halve the deficit.

Tempers frayed yet again in an Arrows match which culminated in Minerva boss Paul Munster getting sent off after he kicked a ball down the touchline in frustration.

This is Minerva’s third defeat in a row as they are stuck on 14 points as they slip down to 9th position.

Click here for highlights of the match.

Churchill and Bagan stumble into a draw

FULL TIME: Churchill Brothers SC 1- 1 Mohun Bagan AC
CHURCHILL BROTHERS: Ahnony Wolfe (78′ [P]); MOHUN BAGAN: Dipanda Dicka (39′)

Anthony Wolfe’s late penalty enabled Churchill Brothers SC to salvage a 1-1 draw against Mohun Bagan at the Tilak Maidan Stadium, Goa.

With this result in the 12th Hero I-League, Churchill remains in the third position on the table with 30 points from 17 games, while Mohun Bagan too remained in the sixth spot, having garnered 23 points from 16 matches.

Mohun Bagan’s Haitian winger, Sony Norde, missed a chance early on and then Churchill’s Libyan defender Hussein Eldor hit the woodwork in the 17th minute.

The home side lost two crucial players, Hussein Eldor and Richard Costa, to injuries in the space of 10 minutes in the first half.

Six minutes before the end of the half Dipanda Dicka gave the visitors the lead. Sony Norde was brought down just inside the Churchill half on the left by Wayne Vaz. Abinash Ruidas floated the ball in from the resultant free-kick towards Henry Kisekka inside the box. The ball was headed towards Dicka who tapped in from close.

Having controlled the game for most parts, central defender Eze Kingsley was adjudged to have brought down Anthony Wolfe inside the box. The Trinidadian stepped up and calmly converted from the spot past keeper Shilton Paul to level the scores.

The draw has left Churchill Brothers on 30 points from 17 matches. The Red Machines can only hope that the other teams drop points to keep their interest alive in the league.

Click here for highlights of the match.

Kynshi inspires Lajong to a shock win over Churchill

FULL TIME: Shillong Lajong FC 3- 2 Churchill Brothers SC
SHILLONG LAJONG: (Samuel Kynshi 36’, 45’ [P]; Mahesh Singh 83’); CHURCHILL BROTHERS: (Willis Plaza 53’ Anthony Wolfe 70’)

Earlier in the week, bottom-placed Shillong Lajong FC pulled off a stunning victory at home to upset second-placed Churchill Brothers.

A brace from Samuel Kynshi and a late strike from Naorem Mahesh Singh has put a massive dent on Churchill’s titles hopes.

The game was placed at a fast pace in the first half. The Lajong youngsters played some enterprising football and went ahead in the 36th minute. Kynshi collected the ball at the top of the box, his first touch took him away from his marker and he unleashed a drive, which eluded James Kithan. 1-0 to the home team.

Just before the half-time whistle, Phrangki Buam was brought down inside the box by Rowlinson Rodrigues and the referee had no choice but to award the penalty. Kynshi stepped up and calmly put the ball in the net.

Churchill started the comeback in the 53rd minute. Trinidadian Willis Plaza, the top scorer in the league, brought the visitors back into the game after latching on to a Nicholas Fernandes cross from the left flank. Plaza ghosted into the six-yard box and volleyed in his 17th goal of the campaign.

Naorem Mahesh Singh nearly reinstated the two-goal advantage when he hit the bar in the 58th minute from a narrow angle.

However, in the 70th minute, Anthony Wolfe drew level for the visitors with a looping header over Purbha Lachempa. Hussein Eldor’s long ball from just inside the Shillong half caught the hosts napping.

Churchill threatened to complete the comeback, but Naorem Mahesh Singh had other ideas. Samuel Lalmuanpuia, who had come in as a sub fed the Manipuri at the edge of the box. Surrounded by three defenders, the forward nailed a left-footer past Kithan to set off wild celebrations at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

With their second win on the trot, Lajong is on 10 points, two behind Gokulam Kerala. The great escape from victory is on for the youngsters.

Click here for highlights of the match.

Esqueda on the double as East Bengal beat NEROCA

FULL TIME: East Bengal FC 2- 1 NEROCA FC
EAST BENGAL: Enrique Esqueda (67’, 86’); NEROCA: Chencho (3’)

East Bengal kept their maiden I-League title hopes with a comeback victory against NEROCA FC at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata.

NEROCA’s on-loan signing, Chencho Gyaltsen, had a chance to score off his first touch for his new club in the 2nd minute after Subhash Singh played him on, but his effort deflected off a defender.

The resulting corner, taken by Katsumi Yusa, proved too hot to handle as goalkeeper Rakshit Dagar made a hash of the clearance and the ball fell kindly for Chencho who stabbed it home to give his team the lead in the 3rd minute.

The hosts did fashion a couple of chances for themselves, a Laldanmawia Ralte volley was narrowly offside. Tony Dovale’s effort off a corner in the 43rd minute produced a smart save for Thapa.

The veteran goalie also stopped Jobby Justin’s volley to maintain the 1-0 lead at the end of the first half.

In the 55th minute, Borja’s headed in the goal off a corner in the 55th minute was disallowed. Danmawia managed to get into an offside position on the goalline. Three minutes later, Alejandro Garcia threw in Mexican striker Enrique Esqueda in place of Toni Dovale, which proved to be the gamechanger.

In the 67th minute, Jaime Colado floated in a cross into the NEROCA box from the left. Enrique Esqueda and Justin teed up for the header. The Spaniard placed his header past Thapa to score the equalizer.

In the 86th minute, the substitute scored the winning goal. The buildup involved the other two East Bengal substitutes when Brandon put the ball through to Samad Ali on the right. The cross into the box found Esqueda, who headed in his second goal.

The Mexican had also scored twice for the East Bengal in the first leg between the two teams.

The win takes East Bengal to 28 points in fourth place, but they have a game in hand. NEROCA remain fifth on 25 points with Mohun Bagan right behind them.

Click here for highlights of the match.

Krizo does it on a cold, wet Wednesday afternoon at Srinagar

FULL TIME: Real Kashmir FC 1- 0 Gokulam Kerala FC
REAL KASHMIR: Gnohere Krizo (51’)

Debutants Real Kashmir FC continued their fairytale run with 1-0 return leg victory over Gokulam Kerala FC. Ivorian striker, Gnohere Krizo, scored his third goal of the campaign to help his side secure three points in tough conditions.

The game was played under constant snow and both teams were content to play long balls, which suited the home team.

The first half was attritional at best with Kashmir’s Dharamraj Ravannan’s yellow card being the only talking point.

The second half came alive in the 51st minute. A Danish Farooq long-range punt was not collected cleanly by Arnab Das Sharma. Krizo reacted fast and put the ball into the Gokulam net.

The win puts Real Kashmir on 32 points, one behind leaders Chennai City FC, who has a game in hand. As for Gokulam, their slip towards the relegation spot continues after collecting 4 points in 10 matches.

Matches postponed after snow in Srinagar

Bad weather has forced the Real Kashmir FC-East Bengal FC match to be postponed, according to an official announcement from the club.

The Gokulam Kerala FC-Aizawl FC match has also been postponed, as multiple members of the Gokulam squad are stuck in Srinagar.

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