| Edeh Chidi |
Mapusa: Edeh Chidi scored a hat-trick to power East Bengal to a spectacular come-from-behind 4-1 victory over Salgaocar in a 13th round I-league encounter at the Duler ground, here on Saturday.
The red-and-gold brigade have 30 points from 14 matches .
Salgaocar, who were looking for their second win on this ground, started impressively and took the lead in the 8th minute.
But East Bengal, who had never won against Salgaocar for the last 12 years in Goa, regrouped and equalised in the 36th minute through Chidi as teams were locked 1-1 at half-time.
East Bengal pumped in three more goals in the second half courtesy Robin Singh (59th) and Chidi who completed his hat-trick when he scored in the 65th and 81st minute.
Salgaocar, determined to score their second win on the newly laid astro turf ground, started well and took the lead early, when Marcus Mascarenhas, who controlled the ball before cutting past Arnab Mondal and beat Abhijit Mondal in the goal in the eighth minute.
East Bengal restored parity in the 36th minute as Raju Gaekwad squeezed the ball between defender Augustin Fernandes and Nicolau Colaco to Chidi who chested the ball down and slotted it home.
It looked Salgaocar would take the fight into the rival camp but two goals in a span of six minutes almost demoralised the team.
First, Penn Orji made a super run on the right flank and played the ball to Robin Singh who volleyed home the ball to the back of the net in the 59th minute and then Chidi who was in awesome form troubled the rival defence constantly and scored two more goals.
A long ball by Mehtab Hussain to Chidi who found the net with ease from inside the box in the 65th minute while his third goal came when Mehtab Hussain again set him up on the top of the box who uncorked the shot that found the net.
In another match, a last gasp injury-time goal by James Moga helped Pune FC beat United Sikkim FC 2-1 here on Saturday.
The match was heading for a draw with Arata Izumi’s goal in the 23rd minute for Pune FC but was cancelled out by Nima Tamang in the 63rd minute.
Moga, who was kept quiet throughout the match by United Sikkim defence, ran past his marker to glance an in-swinging free kick from captain Douhou Pierre into the opponent's net in the second minute of the added time.
Pune FC thus avenged their 2-2 result in the first-leg home game. The win stretched Pune FC’s unbeaten run to eight, while the win was sixth in away games and ninth in the league.
The victory took Pune FC to the top of the league table level on points with Churchill Brothers with a tally of 28 each. But since the Goan club had beaten them in the first leg encounter, head-to-head record keeps them on the top.
Pierre, adjudged the Man of the Match, had played a significant role in the first goal. His intelligent through ball was perfectly met by Izumi who calmly lobbed the ball over the onrushing United Sikkim goalkeeper Yoon Tae.
After conceding the lead, United Sikkim took charge of the game and created several opportunities but was let down by poor finishing. Nurudeen Salau had a great opportunity to level scores in the 25th minute but a tame shot from close range after receiving a ball from Nima did not help.
The equaliser for United Sikkim had a huge slice of luck. Nima Tamang's shot crashed into a couple of defenders and rolled past a helpless Pune FC custodian Abhra Mondal and into the net.
Star striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, nursing an injury, was introduced in the 57th minute but lasted just five minutes. His injury flared up again and was replaced by Khanthang Paite.
With this loss, United Sikkim are under tremendous pressure as the Gangtok based club is languishing in relegation zone with nine points from 13 matches. (Agencies)