Sikkim stun Salgaocar
Ma Ryuji Sueoka scored a brace as Dempo Sports Club laboured to a 2-1 win over Churchill Brothers Sports Club in the opening match of the I-League while Mohun Bagan and Salgaocar suffered shock defeats in their first matches.
Sueoka had provided Dempo with an early lead but when Brazilian striker Beto restored parity for Churchill a minute after resumption, Sueoka was at it again, as he scored a stunning goal in the 74th minute.
Shillong Lajong stunned Mohun Bagan 2-0 in Shillong while Bhaichung Bhutia’s United Sikkim notched a thrilling 3-2 win over Salgaocar in Gangtok to make a stirring debut in the top division.
Dempo surged ahead in the second minute itself as Sueoka got on to the right side of a pass from Clifford Miranda. Churchill goalkeeper Sandip Nandy should have done better in that situation but instead he could only watch helplessly as Sueoka fired home.
Churchill regrouped sooner than one would have expected. Beto went close with two brilliant headers while Steven Dias also missed from a comfortable range.
In the second session, Churchill got the rewards for their spirited efforts. Tomba Singh’s long-ranger was parried by Dempo goalkeeper Subhashish Roy Chowdhury but Beto followed it up with a simple tap in.
Churchill had done well to deny Dempo the ball but the defending champions had the last laugh when Sueoka fended off a challenge from Denzil Franco and D Ravanan to stretch full length and give finishing touches to a measured cross from Anthony.
United Sikkim shine
At the Paljor Stadium in Gangtok, after a dull first 45 minutes, the game exploded to life in second half when Angel Guirado gave the Goan club the lead in the 50th minute. A terrible misunderstanding between United Sikkim goalkeeper Yoon Tae and his defenders allowed Angel to head in a rebound from two yards out.
The Snow Lions, happy till now in defending deep, responded swiftly and restored parity two minutes later.
Their striker Buddiram Tudu rode in unchallenged from midfield but his shot was parried by Salgaocar goalkeeper Karanjit Singh. Nurudeen Salau arrived in time to poke home the loose ball and equalise for United Sikkim.
Salgaocar took the lead for the second time in the 56th minute. A quickly taken free-kick beat an unprepared United Sikkim defence but hit the post. Milagres Gonsalves was at the correct place to capitalise on the rebound.
Lineker Machado then equalised for Sikim in the 64th minute. Boosted by a boisterous home crowd, United Sikkim then netted what turned out to be the decisive goal in the 75th minute when defender Sandesh Jhingan rose high to head in an Ashish Chettri free-kick.
Arrows begin in style
Pailan Arrows kicked off their campign in style, defeating an erratic Mumbai FC 3-2 in a five-goal thriller in Kolkata.