I-League roundup: Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC start campaign with wins
The new I-League season kicked off with matches in Kolkata and Goa
The 2015/16 I-League kicked off on Saturday with two matches in Kolkata and Goa. Defending champions Mohun Bagan beat new I-League entrants Aizawl FC 3-1 while last season’s runners-up Bengaluru FC beat Salgaocar FC 2-1 away.
Mohun Bagan 3-1 Aizwal FC
The I-League kicked off at the Barasat Stadium in Kolkata and it was the Sanjoy Sen’s side that took the lead. Cornell Glenn needed only six minutes to put the Mariners in front when he latched on to a cross from the left flank to beat Aizwal goalkeeper Soram Poirei and find the back of the net.
But Aizwal managed to equalise just 10 minutes later when Mohun Bagan scored an unlucky own goal. Alfred Jaryan had taken a shot that was actually blocked. But the ball fell to Pritam Kotal who, under no pressure, failed to clear the ball to make the score 1-1.
Their joy was short-lived, however, as the home side took the lead again in the 22nd minute. It was Glenn again on the scoresheet with Balwant providing the assist. He took the ball down the left flank before he found the Trinidad and Tobago forward in the box who amde no mistake in beating Poirei again.
Balwant finally got rewarded for his efforts in the 29th minute as he, too, got on the scoresheet. He had managed to beat the Aizwal defence and leave them behind before taking a shot past Poirei to find the left corner of the net. That was how the half ended with the Mariners up 3-1.
Although the second half didn’t see any goals, both Glenn and Balwant came close. For the visitors, Jayran and Albert Zohmingmawia had chances but were either blocked or were just wide. The final whistle saw the Mohun Bagan faithful rejoice as they began their I-League title defence with a win,
Salgaocar FC 1-2 Bengaluru FC
Last season’s runners-up and 2013/14 champions Bengaluru FC started their campaign with a win for the first time. The last two seasons had seen the Blues draw their first game at home but won their first game this season at the Tilak Maidan.
Ashley Westwood’s side were on the attack from the first whistle and CK Vineeth came close when Chhetri’s header fell to him but he volleyed over. But the Blues needed only five minutes to get going as Vineeth gave the south Indian side the lead through a counter-attack. The goal was created by their new signing Kim Seng-yong who beat the defender on the right flank before putting in a cross that was slotted home by Vineeth.
But things turned sour for Bengaluru when Eugeneson Lyngdoh was guilty of fouling Jackichand Singh in the box. The Indian youngster had nutmegged Curtis Osano to get into the box before Lyngdoh fouled him from behind to concede a penalty. Darryl Duffy stepped up and sent Ralte the wrong way to make it 1-1 at half-time.
On at the hour mark, Bengaluru FC captain Sunil Chhetri stepped up to take a free kick after a Salgaocar defender was guilty of a handball from Kim's flick. India’s top goalscorer is known to be a threat on set pieces and he did not disappoint as Karanjit Singh failed to read his effort to give Chhetri his first goal of the new season.
Although the match got a little physical towards the end, six minutes of injury time weren’t enough for Salgaocar to find an equaliser and Bengaluru FC got a crucial win away to give the travelling fans some joy in Goa.
Images courtesy of Bengaluru FC