| Lalrindika Ralte
Gangtok/ Margao: East Bengal struggled hard to break down a resilient United Sikkim FC (USFC) before scoring a 1-0 victory with a freakish goal seven minutes before the final whistle, on Thursday here, at Paljor Stadium.
A fierce free-kick from second half substitute Lalrindika Ralte in the 83rd minute ricocheted off a United Sikkim defender and flew past goalkeeper Yoon Tae for the only goal in a game of overwhelming dominance for East Bengal.
Hampered by niggling injuries to its key players, United Sikkim could not repeat their counterattacking performance like it did against Salgaocar in the first match and was bogged down in its own half against Trevor Morgan’s boys. Clearly playing for a draw, the home side was contended in beefing up its defence, rarely got a glimpse of its opponent goal but also blocked the goal view for East Bengal.
The defensive tactics frustrated East Bengal players till the solitary goal, with a huge slice of luck, came along its way. Friday’s victory ensure that the Calcutta club maintain their 23-match unbeaten run and the first full three points in I-League.
Meanwhile in Margao, Churchill Brothers Sports Club tore into ONGC with a 5-0 demolition at the Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, on Thursday.
Lebanese striker Akram Moghrabi scored a hat-trick while Brazilian striker Roberto Mendes da Silva and Lebanon defender Bilal N also added their names to the impressive scorers list.
Churchill were favoured to win this clash but nobody expected them to win so easily especially against a team that had caused considerable problems to Pune FC in their opening match.
Akram was the hero of the match right from the start as he opened the scoring in the 17th minute Steven Dias’ short corner saw the Lebanon striker leap impressively to head the ball past the ONGC goalkeeper.
In Pune, Nishiguchi Daisuke, who until recently played in the Moldovan league scored a brace and set up the winner as Pune FC defeated Mumbai FC 3-2.
Daisuke scored on either side of the half after Mumbai FC had taken the initiative and the halftime lead to leave home team scurrying before the parity was restored. Daisuke was again in the middle of action when he moved up from the right before sending a minus for Jeje Lalpekhlua to score the winner in the 71st minute.
The win boosted Pune FC to six points from two matches, while Mumbai FC slumped to their second straight loss and are yet to open the account.
Pune FC dominated for most part but, a few gaps they left allowed Mumbai to sneak into the match after having conceded the goal early in the match. Midfielder Chika Wali played a defence-splitting through ball on the right flank just as Daisuke times his run well before firing the goal around Mumbai goalkeeper Kunal Sawant, who had advance too much ahead to leave a gap between him and the goal. (AGencies