I-League: Lajong upset Bagan, Dempo beat Churchill

Shillong Lajong FC kicked off its I-League campaign in a style after it humbled Mohun Bagan 2-0 at JN Sports Complex.

The visitors had better ball possession but unfit Odafa and Tolgay, who are recovering from injury failed to capitalize on their opportunity.

Lajong custodian Lalthuammawia Ralte had a busy evening under the wood-work for which he was later awarded man of the match. After half time, Lajong took the control over the game and broke the dead lock in the 58th minute of the game when substitute Boithan Haokip penetrated Sushil Kumar Singh’s flag kick into the net.

Prayag troubled Dempo for AIFF

A minute prior to Haokip’s goal, it was Friday who had found the net but was caught off side by referee Ajit Meetei. When the match was into the injury time Lalramluaha Hmar sealed the faith of the game after he headed home Samuel Shadap’s volley.

Meanwhile, a 10-man Prayag United SC showed great understanding and resilience to crush a full-strength Air India 5-1.

Nigerian striker Ranti Martins, playing his first I-League match after his switch-over from Dempo SC, scored the first hat trick of the tournament while K. Asif and C.K. Vineeth completed United’s scoreline.

Mickey Fernandes provided the lone reply for Air India.

For champions Dempo, Ryuji Sueoka scored a brace as the club laboured to a 2-1 win over Churchill Brothers Sports Club in the opening match of the I-League at the Nehru Stadium.

The Japanese striker had provided Dempo with a second lead, but when Brazilian striker Roberto Mendes da Silva restored parity for Churchill a minute after resumption, Sueoka was at it again, as he scored a stunning goal in the 74th minute.

For most part, Dempo did not look like the threatening side that they used to be. Churchill Brothers had a measure of them and dominated for long spells with controlled possession. But when it came to providing the cutting edge upfront, Dempo did not falter.

Dempo surged ahead in the second minute itself as Sueoka got on to the right side of a pass from Clifford Miranda. Churchill goalkeeper Sandip Nandy should have done better in that situation but instead he could only watch helplessly.

Churchill regrouped sooner than one would have expected but in the first 45 minutes, they did not taste any success. Beto went close with two brilliant headers while Steven Dias also missed from a fairly comfortable range.

In-between, Dempo had time to launch a counter attack but the resultant attempt from Anthony Pereira struck the crossbar.

In the second session, Churchill got the rewards for their spirited efforts. Tomba Singh’s long ranger was parried away by Dempo goalkeeper Subhashish Roy Chowdhury but Beto had, by then, done well to follow up and give his team the equalizer with a simple tap in.

Churchill had done well to deny Dempo the ball but the defending champions had the last laugh when Sueoka fended off Denzil Franco and D Ravanan to stretch full length and give the finishing touch to a measured cross from Anthony.

Dempo could have had another goal at the fag end but Sandip Nandy did well to deny Anthony and Joaquim Abranches in quick succession.