Delhi FC 1 (79’ Sergio Barboza)
Kenkre FC 1 (56’ Kiran Pandhare)
BENGALURU: Delhi FC and Kenkre FC garnered one point apiece following the 1-1 draw at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Wednesday (October 20, 2021). Following the result, Kenkre rose to the top of the table with 4 points from 2 games while Delhi FC opened their account having played as many games.
Two second-half goals from Kiran Pandhare and Sergio Barboza helped Kenkre FC and Delhi FC respectively get on the score sheet.
Delhi FC in order to obtain all three points from the contest started with winger Himanshu Jangra playing upfront. Kenkre FC, on the other hand, started with their regular line-up.
The first bright spark of the match came in the 6th minute when Kenkre FC left-winger Azfar Noorani swung in a high cross for his striker Ranjeet Singh. The dangerous cross caused a clash in the box as Delhi FC defender Karandeep Singh picked up a knock in the tussle and played the remainder of the game with his head taped to protect himself.
Delhi FC had their first of a string of chances to take the lead in the 12th minute when Nikhil Mali beat the offside trap to run behind Kenkre FC’s high defensive line and latch onto a pass by Anwar Ali. Nikhil strode into the opposition box but goalkeeper Tenzin Samdup saved the winger’s attempt. Laiwang Bohham latched onto the rebound with a fantastic chance to score, but the winger skied his attempt.
Three minutes later, defender Karandeep Singh received a pass back from a short corner to swing in a cross which was met at the near post by Delhi FC captain Anwar Ali, but the centre back, who has 3 goals to his name in the tournament, could not keep his header on target. Kenkre FC goalkeeper Tenzin Samdup remained a busy man in the first half and had to be called upon again in the 25th minute to make an impressive double save off Himanshu Jangra.
The first half finished with Delhi FC dominating possession and leading in the goal attempts statistic comfortably, but the all-important breakthrough was yet to arrive for either side.
Four minutes to the hour-mark, Dead-ball specialist Arvind Rajan flighted in a cross towards the far post which was converted by midfielder Kiran Pandhare who was left unmarked.
All of Delhi FC’s progressive play at this point in the second half came from the left flank with Nikhil Mali at the heart of the action. Delhi FC came agonisingly close to scoring in the 72nd minute after some good build-up play down the left flank again before Gagandeep Bali’s shot on the turn was cleared off the line by Arvind Rajan.
Delhi FC were handed a lifeline in the 78th minute as they were awarded a penalty for handball inside the box by Kenkre FC defender Zacharie Mbenda, whose outstretched arm blocked Sergio Barboza’s goalbound effort. The Brazilian stepped up to take the spot-kick and made no mistake to slot the ball past Tenzin after a stuttered run-up.
As Delhi FC committed more players in the attack to score the winner, Kenkre FC exploited the vacated space to repeatedly break on the counterattack. Substitute Yash Mhatre could have put the game to bed for his side on a couple of occasions, including an audacious effort from behind the halfway line which was saved with some difficulty by Delhi FC goalkeeper Suraj Mallick. On the other side, Delhi FC came close to going ahead from a catastrophic own goal by Zacharie Mbenda, who made amends for the initial mix-up by clearing the ball off the line.
Kenkre FC will take on Rajasthan United on the final match day on October 23 (Saturday) besides Delhi Fc who will challenge Madan Maharaj FC on the same day.
Madan Maharaj FC 0
Rajasthan United FC 2 (88’ Surag Chettri, 90+5’ Harpreet Singh)
BENGALURU: Rajasthan United FC downed Madan Maharaj FC with the help of two late goals from Surag Chettri and Harpreet Singh to secure a 2-0 victory in the Hero I-League Qualifiers final round match here at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Wednesday (October 20, 2021).
The win gives Rajasthan United six points from their first two matches in the final round, placing the side in pole position to secure the coveted Hero I-League spot with Kenkre FC close behind on four points. With no points on the board in the finals so far, Madan Maharaj FC have been eliminated from Hero I-League contention.
The first chance of the afternoon fell Madan Maharaj FC’s way as striker Biren Rai closed down goalkeeper Vishal Joon but his shot went off target. After a quiet opening spell in the game, the match suddenly sprung into life after the 15th minute mark as both sides were on the receiving end of a flurry of chances.
MMFC created another chance from a corner which was played short and worked well between the trio of Mehtab Hossain, Siam Hanghal and Bishnu Bordoloi. Bordoloi played a cross into the far post which found the unmarked Loveday Okechukwu but to no avail.
In the 17th minute, Harmanjot Singh’s shot from over 35 yards missed the top corner by a whisker. RUFC came close again in the 19th minute as winger Aman Thapa’s cross from the right was missed by Akeem Abioye.
After the change of ends at half time, RUFC immediately put the ball in the back of the net through winger Dilli Ram Sanyasi. After some neat interplay between Aman Thapa and Akeem Abioye, Akeem squared the ball inside the box and found Dilli Ram, but the latter’s goal was disallowed as he was judged offside.
Vishal Joon was called into action once again in the 77th minute when veteran MMFC right back Abhishek Das set off on a mazy run, chopping infield and then out before unleashing a fierce drive to produce an acrobatic save from the RUFC shot stopper.
In the 81st minute, Monotosh tackled the ball away from Harpreet, Surag Chettri latched onto the loose ball and drilled a grounded shot towards the MMFC goal. His shot lacked power and was comfortably held by Abhishek Calvin.
RUFC finally brought an end to the stubborn Madan Maharaj resistance in the 88th minute through a well-worked team goal. Akeem Abioye chipped in a precise lob into the box for striker Harpreet Singh, who selflessly chested the ball into the path of the oncoming Surag Chettri, who made no mistake with the finish this time around. Abhishek Calvin got a hand onto Surag Chettri’s finish, but could not keep the ball from rolling into the back of the net.
RUFC doubled their lead in the dying embers of the game after some fantastic individual work from substitute Raja Musharaf. Raja crawled out of a tight space and emerged with the ball from the near the corner flag on the right flank to dash towards goal and play in his teammate Harpreet Singh. Harpreet could no mistake from the six yard box with the amount of time he was afforded, and he calmly finished at the near post to put the game to bed for Rajasthan United FC.
Rajasthan United FC will now take on Kenkre FC in the decider for the Hero I-League Qualifiers, with the odds in favour of RUFC, for whom only a draw will suffice, whereas Kenkre FC must secure all three points to seal their place in Hero I-League 2021-22.