Sporting hold East Bengal

Sporting Clube de Goa put up a gritty performance to hold Federation Cup champions East Bengal to a goalless draw in their opening encounter of the I-League football tournament at the Nehru Stadium, Fatorda,  on Sunday.

Sporting Clube with all their local players played their hearts out against East Bengal as they held the ball for long with quick short passes though they could not penetrate inside the rival defence where Uga Okpara stood tall.

Whenever they created chances, they failed to find their shots on target or rival keeper Abhjit Mondal brought off good saves.

However, their best chance came in the 39th minute when Rojen Singh from the left sent a lob into the box where defender Uga Okpara failed to clear the ball and Dawson Fernandes, who was free inside the box with only keeper to beat, put the ball out.

East Bengal played a waiting game and tried to beat the rival defence on the counter with long ball and in one such move Chidi Edeh came close to scoring in the 36th minute when he was put through by Ishfaq Ahmed but his shot missed the target.

East Bengal changed gear in the second half and held the ball for major part and pressed hard to break the deadlock in the last 10 minutes. But, the Goan side packed more men in the defence and held out for a draw.

United crush Air India

In Kolkata, 10-man Prayag United crushed a full-strength Air India 5-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium.

Nigerian striker Ranti Martins, playing his first I-League match after his switch-over from Dempo SC, scored the first hat-trick of the tournament while K Asif and CK Vineeth completed United’s scoreline. 

Mickey Fernandes provided the lone reply for Air India. The home side played with 10 men for 70 minutes after its Nigerian defender Bello Rasaq was sent off in the 20th minute.

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