Naresh sets up narrow ONGC win over HASC

Bangalore outfit crashes to its first defeat

Naresh sets up narrow ONGC win over HASC

ONGC goalkeeper Bilifung Narzary rises high to thwart a strong challenge from HASC’s Jai Kumar (5) at the Bangalore Football stadium on Monday. DH Photo

HASC’s Satish Kumar Jr quickly neutralised Badmas Babtunde’s early strike, but A Naresh slammed home an exquisite winner at the Bangalore Football stadium as the Mumbai outfit set themselves up nicely for the I-League proper by leaping to the top of the table with 13 points from five matches.

The defeat pushed the Aircraftmen to second, a point behind ONGC, while Vasco Sports Club and Mohammedan Sporting are on nine and eight points respectively with all sides having two matches to play.

The match between form sides HASC and ONGC started as expected -- free-flowing, quick exchange of passes and two goals within the first eight minutes. of play. The stage seemed to be set for a cracking encounter, but silly tackles, constant stoppages, five yellow cards, a late red card for ONGC’s Gour Naskar and the eviction of ONGC assistant coach Sudipto Chakraborty from the bench left a sour taste in the mouth.

Like they have often in the tournament, the Aircraftmen showed their fighting qualities after being being pushed to the wall early in the game. While they did make a fine comeback and created the better chances in the second half, their perennial problem of squandering sitters, including a penalty by captain Rajendra Prasad just two minutes into the second half, severely dented any hopes of a third straight come-from-behind win.

With both teams looking for the early kill, Sandeep Sanga stole the ball from 25 yards and whipped a defence-splitting cross from the right that was neatly tapped in by Babatunde in the fourth minute. However, HASC playermaker Satish Jr brought the contest on level terms within four minutes, latching on to to a superb low cross from Prasad.

Egged on by the hitherto absent constant beating of drums, HASC kept pushing but were left stunned by a screamer from Naresh. The curly-haired right-winger blasted home a left-footer from 30 yards that screamed past a diving HASC custodian Amar Deb in the 32nd minute.

HASC earned a penalty kick in the 47th minute but Prasad hit the crossbar to squander a golden chance to equalise. Then, instead of pulling the trigger himself from point-blank range, an unmarked Xavier Vijay Kumar chose to pass the ball to Satish Jr, whose shot deflected off a defender for a corner in the 55th minute.

Other result: NISA: 1 (Dewan Singh 81st) drew SESA: 1 (Israil Gurung 66th).

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