Chennai City FC inched closer to winning their maiden I-League title after an emphatic win over Mohun Bagan. Their closest rivals East Bengal FC and Real Kashmir FC drew their matches and are seven points behind the league leaders.
Shillong Lajong FC is headed towards relegation, while Minerva Punjab FC breaks a 10-match winless streak.
Nestor inspires Chennai’s Spanish Armada to sink the Mariners
FULL TIME: Chennai City FC 3-1 Mohun Bagan AC
CHENNAI CITY: Nestor Gordillo 8’; Sandro 14’; Pedro Manzi (23’); MOHUN BAGAN: William Lalnunfela (37’)
The Coimbatore-based team had led the points table since the start of the season and sitting on top with 40 points from 18 games.
Playing their final home game, Chennai City FC scored three within the first quarter to ease the nerves of their supporters. The visitors were on the back foot from the first whistle and in the eighth minute, Nestor Gordillo scored a worldie.
The Spanish playmaker lobbed the ball the center-circle over Mohun Bagan goalie Shilton Paul to give his team the lead. [A goal worth looking at many times over](https://twitter.com/ILeagueOfficial/status/1099717173549752321).
Chennai continued their free-flowing football doubled the lead only six minutes. A quick counter-attacking move by Ajitkumar and Nestor found Sandro who calmly slotted the ball to make it 2-0 in the 14th minute. Nestor with the assist.
The situation looked bleak for Mohun Bagan when Pedro Manzi scored the home team’s third goal in the 23rd minute. Nestor cut in from the left before passing it an unmarked Manzi who scored his 19th goal of the league.
William Lalnunfella pulled one back for the visitors with a brilliant goal on the rebound in the 37th minute to make it 3-1.
The second half was all about Chennai City. The scoreline would have been worse after the 79th minute when Shilton Paul fouled Manzi outside the box. The referee sent off the goalkeeper.
The 10-man Bagan team managed to keep the scoreline down and accept defeat against a much better team.
Chennai City FC will now face Churchill Brothers SC in Goa with an opportunity to wrap up the league. Mohun Bagan with 26 points is in sixth place, they will host Indian Arrows in their final match.
Aizawl puts a dent on East Bengal’s title hopes
FULL TIME: East Bengal FC 1-1 Aizawl FC
EAST BENGAL: Enrique Esqueda (65’); AIZAWL: Leonce Dodoz (23’)
East Bengal FC’s hope of winning their maiden I-League title took a serious blow after a 1-1 draw with Aizawl FC at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata.
East Bengal began the match on an attacking note with Jobby Justin, Esqueda, and Jamie Santos making some threatening moves.
Aizawl withstood the onslaught and hit the hosts with a sucker punch. Dodoz received a long ball from Alfred Jaryan lobbed the ball over an on-rushing Rakshit Dagar to give the visitors the lead in the 23rd minute.
East Bengal tried to hit back through Danmawia whose shot from outside the box was tipped over Lalawmpuia, by the Aizawl custodian, to maintain the lead at half time.
The second half began with East Bengal pressing for an equalizer, while Dodoz continued to threaten the East Bengal goal.
However, it was Esqueda who headed in Samad Mallick’s cross to make it 1-1 in the 65th minute.
East Bengal was handed a boost when Aizawl’s Kareem Nurain sent off in the 70th minute for a foul on Jobby Justin.
The Aizawl defense held on for the last 20 minutes, however, during added time Joby Justin hit the post and Didika’s effort missed the post by inches.
East Bengal FC will face Real Kashmir in their next match – both teams are placed second with 33 points. Aizawl are on 15 points in ninth place and will face Gokulam Kerala in their next match.
Shillong Lajong stares at relegation after a 1-1 draw
FULL TIME: Shillong Lajong FC 1-1 Gokulam Kerala FC
SHILLONG LAJONG: Samuel Lalmuanpia (65’ [P]); GOKULAM KERALA: Marcus Joseph (43’)
Shillong Lajong FC looks likely to finish at the bottom of the I-League table for the first time since gaining promotion in the 2011-12 season.
Needing a win to keep their hopes of avoiding relegation, the young Lajong team failed to take advantage of 10-man Gokulam Kerala FC as the match ended in a 1-1 draw at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Shillong tonight.
Gokulam Kerala FC drew the first blood through a stellar finish from Marcus Joseph in the 43rd minute before Samuel Lalmuanpia restored the parity for the hosts in the 65th minute. Mahesh Singh Naorem was adjudged the Hero of the match.
Gokulam began on an attacking note and had the lion’s share of the possession. Felipe De Castro and Marcus Joseph pressed the Lajong defense, while Shillong launched their attacks through Mahesh Singh and Kitboklang Pale
The visitors went ahead in the 43rd minute. Arun Jayaraj’s cross found Marcus Joseph who did well to provide the finishing touches.
The second half began the same as the first. Gokulam Kerala FC putting the Lajong defense under pressure, while the home team played on the counter.
Naorem Mahesh Singh was brought down by Daniel Addo inside the box which gave the home team a chance to restore parity. Samuel Lalmuanpuia stepped up and scored the equalizer in the 65th minute.
Shillong Lajong continued to attack, but the visitors had put up a stout defense. The final 10 minutes provided some hope for the young Lajong team when Gokulam’s Brazilian midfielder, Felipe Castro, was given his marching orders in the 81st minute.
However, the breakthrough for the home team did not materialize and the solitary point after 90 minutes ensured that they stayed in the relegation zone.
Shillong Lajong’s 11 points and a goal difference of -29 meant that Gokulam Kerala was safe from relegation as they are now on 14 points and a goal difference of -6.
Lajong will travel to Aizawl FC for the next, while Gokulam will host NEROCA FC and Aizawl FC in the next two fixtures.
Arrows pierce Kashmir’s title hopes
FULL TIME: Indian Arrows 2-2 Real Kashmir FC
CHENNAI CITY: Amarjit Singh (78’[P]), Rahul KP (90+1’); MOHUN BAGAN: Abednedo Tetteh (82’); Mason Robertson (90’)
Real Kashmir FC’s title challenge took a stumble following a 2-2 draw against Indian Arrows at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar.
Following the result, Real Kashmir FC took the second spot on the table with 33 points from 17 matches whereas Indian Arrows reclaim the seventh spot with 18 points from 19 matches.
Both teams created chances to go ahead, however, it was the visitors who had the better chances early on. Danish Farooq’s shot went over the bar in the 19th minute. Four minutes later Bazie’s header lacked the power to trouble the Arrows goalie, while Mason Robertson’s effort hit the side netting in the opening half hour.
Arrows replied through Rohit Danu, whose toe-poke sailed over the woodwork in the 39th minute. Two minutes later, Amarjit put in a good pass to Rohit but he miscued his shot. Ninthoi hoodwinked Mason to rush into the 18-yard-box but could not finish.
In the second half, the match took an interesting turn when Rahim Ali’s shot hit Ravanan’s hand and the referee didn’t hesitate to award the youngsters a spot-kick. Skipper Amarjit slotted it past Bilal Khan to give Arrows the lead
The visitors changed the gear immediately equalized in the 82nd minute. Vicky Meitei’s corner was headed in by Abednedo Tetteh to make it 1-1.
Vicky Meitei turned provider again as his long ball found Mason Robertson who volleyed it home to make it 2-1 in the 90th minute.
However, a minute into added time, Rahul KP headed in Anwar Ali’s free-kick to deny Real Kashmir a much-needed three points.
Real Kashmir FC maintained their unbeaten record on the road throughout the campaign as they prepare to host East Bengal. With 33 points from 17 matches, the title appears to be out of reach while the fate of their clash against Minerva Punjab is unknown.
As for the youngsters of Indian Arrows, they will head to Kolkata for the final match against Mohun Bagan with 18 points in the bag.
Minerva finally wins a game of football
FULL TIME: Minerva Punjab FC 1-0 NEROCA FC
MINERVA PUNJAB: Juan Quero Barraso (65’)
The stakes involving the defending champions and last year’s runners up were low this time around. While Minerva’s title defense failed to take off from the start, NEROCA failed to keep pace with the frontrunners by picking up five points from the past four games.
The hosts made some interesting runs and crosses inside the box but weren’t able to go past NEROCA goalkeeper Lalit Thapa. While NEROCA increased their pace in the latter part of the first half, the trio of Katsumi Yusa along with Chencho and Subash Singh got close in a couple of occasions but Nidhin Lal was equally safe under the crossbar.
In the second half, Minerva’s resolute defense shut out a series of attempts by Katsumi Yusa and former-Minerva striker, Chencho Gyatsen.
The home side managed to break the deadlock in the 65th minute. Spanish recruit finding the back of the net from close courtesy Moinuddin Khan’s cross.
Minerva hosts East Bengal in their last home match, while NEROCA will travel to Kozhikode to face Gokulam Kerala FC.