I-League: Shillong Lajong Beat Minerva Punjab 2-1
Chennai, Jan 21 (IANS) Haitian star Sony Norde missed a penalty but made amends with his match-winning goal in a 2-1 win against Chennai City FC vaulting Mohun Bagan to the top of the I-League football standings here on Saturday.
It was Mohun Bagan’s fourth consecutive, yet most difficult win of the tournament that put them on 12 points from four matches. Debutants Chennai, who proved to be inspired opponents, remained at the ninth spot with just a point from as many games.
Chennai made a match out of the contest when Brazilian striker Marcos Tank put them ahead in the 52nd minute, capitalising on a defensive mistake by Brazil born defender Eduardo Ferreira.
But Mohun Bagan pulled level four minutes later with Indian international Jeje Lalpekhlua’s third goal of the tournament and then star winger Haitian Sony Norde made amends for a first half missed penalty to score in the 77th minute.
The match was tied 0-0 at halftime. Mohun Bagan’s Norde missed a penalty in the 35th minute. Stepping up to take the spot kick, after being tripped inside the box, he drove his shot to the right of Chennai goalkeeper Karanjit Singh who dived correctly for a block.
Chennai went ahead against the run of play, capitalising on a defensive mistake from Eduardo. Tank robbed him of the ball on the left flank and then entered the box, unleashing a tame shot that Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Debjit Mazumdar should have stopped. But it sneaked beneath him. It was Mohun bagan’s first conceded goal in the tournament.
Stunned by the goal despite dominating the proceedings throughout, Mohun Bagan urgently pushed forward. Their response was almost immediate.
Norde was instrumental in creating the goal. Running at the defenders from his favoured position in the left wing, he created space for a pass to Scottish striker Darryl Duffy, whose initial shot got blocked.
But the ball bounced kindly for a lurking Jeje who was sharp enough to guide the ball into the net from close range.
Buoyed by the equaliser, Mohun Bagan stepped on the accelerator and went ahead through a classic counter attack.
Taking merely seconds to convert defence into offence, they orchestrated a swift breakaway attack from the left flank of their half.
Jeje was the creator of the ball as he spotted Norde’s run down the left channel.
His early release of the ball from midfield fell perfectly into the path of a striding Norde who calmly entered the box before composing himself to guide the ball past an advancing Karanjit.
Both teams got chances to alter the scoreline in an enthralling contest but Mohun Bagan triumphed utilising their superior experience.
In Shillong, local boy Rupert Nongrum and new Cameroonian striker Aser Dipanda Dicka scored a goal each as Shillong Lajong FC registered their first points with a 2-1 victory over Minerva Punjab FC on Saturday.
Loveday Okechukwu reduced the margin for Punjab moments before the final whistle.
It was Shillong’s first home match of the tournament and they used their advantage to jump up to the seventh position in the points table. Lajong’s next game is against Mumbai FC on January 28.
In Pune, Churchill Brothers FC recorded their first points with a 1-1 draw away at DSK Shivajians.
The home side took the lead in the first-half, on 21 minutes through Korean forward Kim Song Yong. But a late 86th-minute header from Adil Ahmed Khan levelled the score.
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