Gritty Tigers edge out Vasco

Football Second Division I-League: Eagles FC register convincing 3-1 victory over Luangmual

Mumbai Tigers FC survived a gritty test from fellow contenders Vasco FC to stay on course in the I-League Second Division here on Tuesday.

Courtesy Mohammed Rafi’s well-judged deflection midway through the first half, the Tigers edged out the Goans 1-0 in a tense encounter to return to the top spot in the standings here at the Bangalore Football Stadium.

The Tigers, with 10 points from four matches, share the summit with dark horses Southern Samity while Vasco are still alive in second place with seven points after four games.

Despite the searing afternoon heat, there wasn’t any let off in intensity in the clash between the Tigers and Vasco. Realising a win would give them a handy advantage with the tournament slowly kicking into its business end, both teams went in pursuit of an early goal.

After missing a great chance as early as in the sixth minute when his sliding volley just sailed over, former India midfielder N P Pradeep laid the foundation for Tigers’ opening goal in the 22nd minute. Just off the midfield, he picked out K Thoi Singh on the right with a well-weighted pass and the medio then whipped in a cross into the box that was deflected brilliantly by a diving Rafi.

Bizarrely, post the goal, the Tigers just switched themselves off as Vasco began to call the shots. The Goans kept raiding the Tigers territory at will but just could not breach it, largely due to goalkeeper’s Arup Debnath’s superb show and partly due to some contentious refereeing from Balasubramaniam.

Debanth pulled off five fantastic saves as Vasco struggled to find the net despite completely dominating the game. Debnath first gloved out Emmanuel Chinedu’s stinging long-ranger three minutes into the interval before denying the Nigerian again four minutes later. He then tipped over Stephen Offei’s powerful close-range shot in the 85th minute as Vasco began to grow restless.

Not the ones to give up, Vasco nearly had the equaliser four minutes from time only to be denied by the post. Assim Hassan’s ripper from 45 yards beat Debnath for pace but it ricocheted off the post.

With luck on their side, the Tigers hung on by the skin of their teeth to rise to the top again.

In the day’s second match, Eagles FC defeated Luangmual FC 3-1.
Onome Akportu (7th), M Suji Kumar (45+1) and Ahamed Malik scored for Eagles while B Zoramthara restored a semblance of pride for Luangmual.

KGF held

KGF Sports Academy were held to a 2-2 draw by Kenkre FC in the Group A contest at Singrauli.

The Bangalore side are on nine points from six matches with two games more to go.

Wednesday’s matches: South United vs Hindustan FC (4.00 pm).

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