I-League 2021: Former champions Chennai City FC beat Gokulam Kerala; Mohammedan SC, Punjab FC win

Vijay Naggapan's 50th-minute strike proved to be the difference between the two sides after Gokulam Kerala's third-minute strike by Dennis Antwi was cancelled out by Elvedin Skrijelj's 26th-minute penalty.

Press Trust of India January 09, 2021 18:41:50 IST
I-League 2021: Former champions Chennai City FC beat Gokulam Kerala; Mohammedan SC, Punjab FC win

Chennai City FC celebrate after scoring against Gokulam Kerala. Twitter@ILeagueOfficial

Kalyani: Former champions Chennai City FC defeated Gokulam Kerala FC 2-1 in their opening match of the I-League on Saturday.

Vijay Naggapan's 50th-minute strike proved to be the difference between the two sides after Gokulam Kerala's third-minute strike by Dennis Antwi was cancelled out by Elvedin Skrijelj's 26th-minute penalty.

Gokulam Kerala FC wasted no time and took the lead in the third minute with Dennis Antwi firing home from close range following a quick corner.

Chennai City's Singaporean signing Iqubal came close to bagging an equaliser from a freekick in the eighth minute. Shortly after, Philip Adjah could have found the net for Gokulam FC but shot wide of the target from outside of the box.

In the 26th minute, Chennai City's Serbian import Vladimir Molerovic was brought down inside the box. The other Serbian import for Chennai, Elvedin Skrijelj, scored from the spot to level the scores.

It took Chennai City five minutes into the second half to take the lead. Vijay Naggapan played a delightful one-two with Demir Avdic to find the back of the net.

Vincent Barreto could have levelled the scores once again in the 55th minute when a wayward ball landed at his feet inside the Chennai City box. Barreto, however, failed to find the net.

Gokulam pressed hard to find the equaliser but Chennai City defended as a compact unit to hold on to the lead.

Punjab FC beat Aizawl

Pritam Ningthoujam's spectacular long-range strike helped Punjab FC open their I-League campaign on a winning note as they beat Aizawl FC 1-0.

Ningthoujam's 18th-minute goal gave Punjab FC three points in a high-intensity match.

Aizawl FC created clear goal-scoring opportunities throughout the match but failed to convert any one of them.

In the 10th minute, Princewell Emeka tried to backheel a pass to an onrushing Brandon inside the box, whose shot was blocked, as Aizawl FC wasted a golden opportunity to go ahead.

Eight minutes later, Pritam Ningthoujam unleashed a powerful strike from outside of the box to hand the Punjab outfit a 1-0 lead, much against the run of play.

Chencho Gyeltshen could have doubled the lead had his touch inside the box been better after collecting a cross from the right flank.

With all the possession in the final third, Aizawl FC lacked creativity up front and were easily diffused by Punjab's defensive line. Despite dominating possession and pressing their opponents constantly, Aizawl FC did not have any goals to show.

The Mizoram side earned a golden opportunity to grab an equaliser in the 62nd minute after Alfred Jaryan found himself inside the box but his shot from a tight angle was blocked by the opponents.

Another opportunity came to Aizawl's Lalremsanga Fanai in the 73rd minute, when he was put right onto the goal by a defence-splitting through-ball by Laldinpuia.

Fanai, with only the goalkeeper to beat, fired his shot right at Kiran Chemjong, who kept the ball out and maintained his clean sheet.

Mohammedan see off Sudeva

Ali Faisal's second-half strike helped newly-promoted Mohammedan Sporting beat debutants Sudeva Delhi FC 1-0 as the I-League season got underway on Saturday.

Faisal's 58th-minute goal proved to be the difference between the two sides in a match that could have gone either way at the VYBK Stadium.

In a cagey first half, both teams appeared to be gauging each other's strengths without exposing themselves to counter-attacks.

Sudeva Delhi FC, the first club from the national capital to play in the I-League, had the first shot on target in the seventh minute when Kean Lewis cut inside from the left flank only to force the opposition custodian into an easy save.

Playing with an all Indian squad, Sudeva Delhi FC tried to unlock the defence of the Black Panthers by long balls.

ILeague 2021 Former champions Chennai City FC beat Gokulam Kerala Mohammedan SC Punjab FC win

Mohammedan SC players celebrate during their match against Sudeva. Twitter@ILeagueOfficial

Mohammedan Sporting had an opportunity to move ahead in the 17th minute but Raphael Onwrebe missed a sitter in front of goal after Suraj Rawat unleashed a fine low cross into the box from the right flank.

With neither team committing men in attack and both sides playing with a deep backline, chances were few and far between. Kean Lewis, on occasion, tried to waltz past the Mohammedan defence but was kept at bay.

Sudeva Delhi FC started to press in the second half, looking for leaks in Mohammedan's defence. Ajay Singh, however, was left isolated at times playing as a lone striker upfront.

The breakthrough came much against the run of play in the 58th minute when Faisal pounced onto a defensive error by the Sudeva backline and slotted it into the back of the net.

The sheer power of the strike beat custodian Rakshit Dagar, despite him getting a hand on the shot.

Sudeva Delhi FC went on the offensive thereafter and searched for the equalizer, committing bodies in attack to salvage points off the match.

Although half-chances came in plenty for the Delhi outfit, a clear goal-scoring opportunity eluded them.

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