East Bengal locked horns with Aizawl FC on Monday, knowing that anything less than a victory would put a dent on their I-League title aspirations. The visitors already drew the first blood in the 23rd minute thanks to Léonce Dodoz Zikahi. However, the goal which has left the fans divided on the internet wasn't that one.
In the dying embers of the first half, Ansumana Kromah rolled the ball into the back of the net after intercepting Rakshit Dagar's pass to an East Bengal player. The Red and Gold fans had their hand in their head as it meant their team were two goals down. However, the referee blew his whistle and signalled for a foul on Ansumana Kromah for obstruction of play, much to the relief of the fans.
The I-League commentators claimed that the goal should have stood as East Bengal goalkeeper Rakshit Dagar had released the ball. However, closer inspection reveals that the referee was spot on.
According to Law 12 of the FIFA Laws of the game which pertains to fouls and misconduct,
"It is an offence for a player to prevent a goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands.
A player must be penalized for playing in a dangerous manner if he kicks or attempts to kick the ball when the goalkeeper is in the process of releasing it.
It is an offence to restrict the movement of the goalkeeper by unfairly impeding him, e.g. at the taking of a corner kick."
Now, Ansumana Kromah was lurking just in front of Rakshit Dagar, preventing the former Minerva Punjab player from releasing the ball. Moreover, this is also a violation of the third point as he was restricting the goalkeeper's movement.
Had Liberian forward Ansumana Kromah made contact with the ball after it touched the ground, the goal would have stood. However, as one can see, that scenario didn't unfold, rendering the referee's decision to be correct.
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East Bengal pulled one back in the 65th minute through Enrique Esqueda after the FIFA U-17 World Cup winner headed home Samad Ali Mallick's cross from the right flank.
Just moments before the final whistle, Joby Justin hit the woodwork. It was the closest East Bengal had come to taking the lead and going home with the full three points. However, the final scoreline remained 1-1. As a result, Chennai City FC are now one victory away from clinching their maiden I-League trophy.