Ozbey strike lifts East Bengal to top of table

Kolkata team edges out Salgaocar by a solitary goal; AIFF XI score first victory

KEEN TUSSLE: Salgaocar defender Irungbam Meetei (left) vies for the ball with East Bengal striker Tolgay Ozbey in their I-League match in Kolkata on Wednesday. PTI

East Bengal’s winning moment came in the 60th minute as they put up yet another commanding show to pocket three points and lead the table with 15 points, while Salgaocar remained on 12 points.

The top of the table clash lived up to the expectations with both teams going for broke in an exciting but fruitless first half.

Eyeing to consolidate their position on top of the league standings, both the teams started in attacking mode with Salgaocar defence standing tall against some wonderful raids by East Bengal strike force.

Salgaocar’s attack, led by Ghanaian Yusif Yakubu and Japanese Ryuji Sueoka, also tested the East Bengal defence, who were yet to concede a goal in this season’s I-League.

East Bengal, coached by Trevor James Morgan, had the best chance of the first half in the 17th minute but Salgaocar custodian Karanjit Singh did well to thwart a Mehtab Hussain long-ranger.

Salgaocar’s backline, led by Luciano Sabrosa, was up to the task as they held back East Bengal with some solid display.

With East Bengal constantly pressing forward continuously, Salgaocar relied more on counter attacks and the Goan side did create some good chances.

They missed an easy chance in the 25th minute when Japanese striker Sueoka headed straight to goalkeeper Sandip Nandy.

The second half was almost a mirror of the first as both teams searched desperately for the lead. However, it was East Bengal who drew blood 15 minutes after resumption.
Hussain set it up from the right flank as Singh passed it on to Ozbey who found the target easily with no Salgaocar defender in sight.

In Panjim, defending champions Dempo edged out Mumbai FC 1-0 with the all-important goal coming from Roberto Mendes Da Silva in the 58th minute.

AIFF XI win

After back-to-back losses in the last two matches, AIFF XI defeated Air India 2-1 to notch up their maiden win.

Shilton D Silva put AIFF XI ahead with a 32nd minute strike before Jagtar Singh doubled the lead in 73rd minute.

Air India’s Samson Singh reduced the margin in the injury time (90+2) but it was too late for the Mumbai outfit to stage a fightback at Tau Devi Lal Stadium.

That AIFF XI wanted to drive home the advantage as early as they could was evident from their aggressive play from the word go, and the approach bore fruit when D Silva headed in a Tirthankar Sarkar free-kick from the left just after the half-hour mark.

Trailing by a goal, one expected Yusuf Ansari’s Air India to dish out a spirited performance in the second half but what happened was exactly the opposite.

AIFF XI continued to press hard for goals and kept Air India defenders on their toes. And then, coach Desmond Bulpin made a substitution that turned out to be a masterstroke.
Malsawam Fela, who was having a good game till then, was replaced by Jagtar Singh and the latter soon unleashed a powerful shot that crashed into the back of the Air India net.

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