Shillong/ Gangtok/ Margao: A clinical performance by Lajong FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex here on Saturday ensured that McDowell Mohun Bagan went home without a point from the first match of the 2012-13 I-League season.
Boithang Haokip and Lalramluaha Hmar scored for the home team in the second half of the match, much to the delight of coach Desmond Bulpin and the teeming crowd. But the score could have been different had the Mohun Bagan strikers converted the chances which came their way especially in the first half.
Midfielder Haokip, who substituted Eugeneson Lyngdoh Mawphlang, scored in the 63rd minute after he successfully converted a corner kick taken by captain Rennedy Singh.
A minute before that, Mohun Bagan’s custodian Arindam Bhattacharya managed to get his hands into the ball following a header from Ebi Sukore. Sukore’s header came from a corner also taken by the Lajong skipper. A minute before full time, Hmar scored the second goal from outside the box.
“Away matches are always tough. Lajong played well and they are capable of upsetting big teams. But at the same time we missed sitters,” a disappointed Kashyap said at the post-match press conference. Kashyap said Okolie Odafe and Tolgay Ozebe, who failed to impress, have to improve their fitness level.
At the Paljor Stadium, in Gangtok, debutants United Sikkim Football Club (USFC) upset Salgaocar 3-2 in a thrilling match at the Paljor Stadium.
After a dull first 45 minutes, the game exploded in the second half when Angel Guirado gave the Goan club the lead in the 50th minute.
USFC responded swiftly and restored parity two minutes later. Frontliner 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.
Even before the 12,000 odd home supporters could finish celebrating the first I-League goal of United Sikkim, Salgaocar took the lead for the second time in 56th minute. A quickly taken free kick beat an unprepared United Sikkim defence and goalkeeper but hit the post. Milagres Gonsalves was at the correct place to capitalize on the rebound and make the score 2-1 in favour of Salgaocar.
United Sikkim left winger Lineker Machado equalized with a fine strike in the 64th minute. Boosted by a boisterous home crowd, United Sikkim then took the lead in the 75th minute when defender Sandesh Jhingan rose highest to head an Ashish Chettri free kick.
At the Nehru Stadium, in Fatorda, Ryuji Sueoka scored a brace as Dempo laboured to a 2-1 win over Churchill Brothers. The Japanese striker had provided Dempo with a second-minute strike, but when Beto restored parity for Churchill a minute after resumption, Sueoka was at it again, scoring a stunning goal in the 74th minute.
Lajong FC 2 Mohun Bagan 0
Pailan Arrows 3 Mumbai FC 2
Dempo SC 2 Churchill Brothers 1
United Sikkim FC 3 Salgaocar 2