In the latest round of fixtures in the I-League, East Bengal, Dempo, Mumbai FC and Rangdajied United all won their respective games, with East Bengal and Dempo the biggest winners over the weekend.
Lalrindika Ralte scored one and set-up the other as East Bengal beat Sporting Clube de Goa 2-1. At the stroke of half-time, Ralte crossed a low ball for Baljit Sahni, who had an easy tap-in to give the hosts the lead. Ralte then doubled the lead after a scorching drive from outside the box deflected off a defender to beat the goalkeeper in the 65th minute. Beevan D’Mello scored a late, injury time consolation goal for Sporting, who have now gone 6 games without a win.
In the all-Goa derby, Dempo played host to Churchill Brothers, with both teams at opposite ends of the table. A superb performance by Tolgay Ozbey saw the defending champions being blown away 4-1 and being in real danger of becoming first side to win the league and get relegated the next season. Ozbey scored all 4 goals, including a first-half hat-trick. Lebanese midfielder Abdel Shabana pulled one back for the visitors in the 56th minute but it wasn’t enough to remove the gloss from Dempo’s, and Ozbey’s performance.
Meanwhile, Mumbai FC broke their 8-game long run without a win as they came from behind to beat Shillong Lajong 2-1 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong. Cornell Glen opened the scoring for the visitors in the 18th minute, but sloppy defending saw the visitors equalize right before the break, through Alfred Jaryan. Then in the 50th minute, a Mumbai long ball from deep inside their own half set off Ashutosh Mehta, and with no Shillong defender checking his run, the Mumbai lad had the easy task of beating the goalkeeper to get the lead. Shillong attacked the game for long periods after going behind but Mumbai held on for what will be a crucial 3 points.
Meanwhile, title hopefuls Salgaocar suffered a shock defeat to Rangdajied United at home. Salgaocar thought they had won the game when an 81st minute Francisco Fernandes strike gave the hosts the lead, but sloppy defending saw Ranti Martins score twice, once in the 86th minute and the second in injury time as the Shillong outfit ran out winners.
In the other match, a 10-man United SC and Mohammedan Sporting drew 1-1. Both goals were scored in the latter stages of the first half, with Penn Orji giving Mohammedan the lead in the 44th minute, only to see United SC equalize almost immediately through Biswajit Biswas with virtually the last kick of the half. At around the hour-mark, United SC midfielder Lalkamal Bhowmick was given his marching orders after receiving his second yellow, but the home team valiantly defended and the visitors could come away with only a draw.
With the latest round of matches, East Bengal and Dempo are now locked on 31 points in 3rd and 4th place. However, East Bengal has two games in hand and can realistically catch up with leaders Bengaluru FC on 38 points. Salgaocar in 2nd missed a great opportunity to cut the deficit to a mere point after losing. Meanwhile, Mohammedan and Churchill Brothers are locked at the bottom of the league with 18 points each.