Referee Gifts Dempo A Win Over Snow Lions
Newly promoted United Sikkim FC gave a few jittery moments to defending champions Dempo SC, but Armando Colaco’s boys managed to notch-up all three points riding on two contentious decisions. After Anwar Ali’s 10th minute strike for the Snow Lions was controversially disallowed by referee Pratap Singh, Koko Sakibo drew the first blood for Dempo around the 20 minute mark with the help of a powerful header. The goal was eventually cancelled out by United Sikkim’s Salau Nurudeen around the hour mark and they looked on course of snatching at-least a point from the match.
However, another erroneous decision by the referee sealed the fate of the match in Dempo’s favor with only a few seconds left for the final whistle. Anthony Pereira appeared to have dived inside the United Sikkim box, but instead of booking him for simulation, the referee awarded a penalty to the Goan giants amidst huge protests from the Sikkim players. Ryuiji Sueoka did not make any mistake to convert from the spot and the Goan Blues managed to hoard home three crucial points.
East Bengal down Pune FC In Battle of Reds
Edeh Chidi’s first I-League goal for the Red-&-Gold brigade and Abhijit Mondal’s heroics under the bar proved to be just enough for East Bengal to secure their second successive win of the season against a spirited Pune FC side. After the 28th minute strike by the Nigerian Edeh Chidi, it was the visitors who dominated the proceedings but failed to get the ball travel beyond Abhijit Mondal, who made a number of stunning saves, much to the agony of a handful Red Lizard faithful present at the Salt Lake stands.
With this win, the Red-&-Golds move within two points of table toppers Dempo and they will get a chance to overtake the leaders with a win in the next game, when both the titans clash against each other at the same venue.
Airmen Grounded By Own Goal
It was a relief for Mohun Bagan faithful as the Mariners huffed and puffed to their maiden win of the season against bottom placed Air India in an away game. Odafa Okolie’s right footed screamer took an wicked deflection off Micky Fernandes to fetch the only goal of the match in the 68th minute. The hard-earned 1-0 win might have come from an unfortunate own goal, but nonetheless it has brought in much needed three points for a struggling under-fire bunch of players.
With this win, Bagan moved to 10th position in the latest I-League standings, while Air India remain at the rock bottom of the table after suffering three consecutive defeats.
Flaming Oranje Secure Maiden Win
Sporting Clube de Goa came from behind to register their first victory of the season against Shillong Lajong FC. Gbeneme Friday’s strike for the home team on the brink of half time was cancelled out by Ogba Kalu soon after the change of ends and the match was poised delicately at 1-1 by the hour mark.
The Flaming Oranje players appeared to be buoyed by the equalizer as they kept on attacking Desmond Bulpin’s defensive unit in numbers and eventually succeeded in breaching Lajong’s last line of defense when Dawson Fernandes headed home the winner from Kalu’s brilliant cross with 20 minutes remaining on the clock. Both Lajong and Sporting have managed to hoard home 4 points after round-3 with the help of a win, loss and draw each.
ONGC Reign In Prayag Prancing Horse
Prayag United had to be content with just a point from round-3 as a late strike by Ranti Martins saved the Purple brigade in an embarrassing outing against newly promoted institutional outfit ONGC FC at Ambedkar Stadium, New Delhi.
But Prayag coach Sanjoy Sen is hardly complaining. He knows it could have been much worse for his army had Katsumi Yusa’s tap deep into the injury time found the target instead of the woodwork after comprehensively beating Subrata Pal in Prayag goal.
ONGC stunned their much-illustrious Kolkata counterparts with a delightful free-kick goal in the 36th minute. Subrata Pal’s fully stretched dive to his left was not enough to keep Eric Brown’s inch-perfect delivery out of the goal-line and ONGC went to half time breather with an unexpected lead. They looked on course of a surprise win till a couple of minutes before the final whistle, but last two season’s top scorer Ranti Martins had other ideas. The Nigerian talisman took his I-League 2012-13 goal tally to four goals from three matches after expertly nudging a Lester Fernandes cross to restore parity in the 88th minute.
Churchill Brothers Too Hot To Handle For Mumbai FC
After narrowly losing out to arch-rivals Dempo SC in the opening round, Churchill Brothers continued their revival with another thumping win over Mumbai FC. Lebanese striker Akram Moghrabi headed in a flag kick off Steven Dias to make it 2-0 for Churchill in the 34th minute mark after an Abhishek Yadav own goal in the 17th minute had opened up the Mumbai FC goal-mouth.
Evans Quao’s marching order in the 39th minute made the matters worse for the Mumbai brigade. Although veteran Ghanaian striker Yusif Yakubu pulled one back for Khalid Jamil’s army in the second half, skipper Roberto Mendes da Silva converted from the spot to make it 3-1 in favor of Subhash Bhowmick’s men with 20 minutes to go for the final whistle.
Salgaocar Held To A Stalemate By The Arrows
Strikers’ finishing woes came back to haunt Salgaocar as the Goan Greens’ pursuit of their season’s first win burst in thin air after yet another draw in round-3.
A gritty display by the young Pailan Arrows outfit certainly deserves accolades, but it has to be the strikers’ awful finishing that should take the majority of blame for Salgaocar’s dismal start to the season. Australian star striker Sean Rooney, Francis Fernandes and Milagres Gonsalves wasted three of the easiest opportunities of the game in the first half. Rooney inexplicably missed the target from a handshaking distance for a second time after the lemon break, while Francis Fernandes effort was expertly kept out by young custodian Soram Poirei.
On the other hand, the young Indian brigade stuck to a defensive plan led brilliantly by central defender Deepak Devrani, and although they did not have too many chances to trouble the scorers, they certainly did enough to merit a share of the point.
TheHardTackle’s Dream Team (Round-3)
Goalkeeper: Abhijit Mondal (East Bengal)
Defenders: Denzil Franco (Churchill Brothers), Deepak Devrani (Pailan Arrows), Aibor Khongji (Mohun Bagan)
Midfielders: Katsumi Yusa (ONGC), Ogba Kalu (Sporting Goa), Jatin Bist (ONGC), Lineker Machado (United Sikkim), Ryuiji Sueoka (Dempo SC)
Forwards: Akram Moghrabi (Churchill Brothers), Dawson Fernandes (Sporting Goa)
Reserves: Soram Poirei (Pailan Arrows), Salau Nurudeen (United Sikkim), Edeh Chidi (East Bengal), Eric Brown (ONGC), Beto (Churchill Brothers), Ebi Sukore (Shillong Lajong FC)