Pune: Laldanmawia Ralte scored a late goal as Aizawl FC beat DSK Shivajians by a solitary goal and jumped to the top spot in the I-League points table in Pune on Tuesday.
Ralte struck in the 85th minute to Aizawl full three points at the Balewadi Sports Complex ground here.
DSK Shivajians, without a win in their last five matches, made three changes to the side which faced Chennai City in the last game week.
At the back, Serbian Sasa Kolunija replaced Ricky Lallawmawma, while under-22 player Jerry Lalrinzuala was introduced from the start along with Ongnam Milan Singh.
Aizawl manager Khalid Jamil made no changes to his starting line-up from the side's 2-0 win against Mumbai FC at home last time.
Aizawl started the game with good intensity, pushing DSK Shivajians on the backfoot early on, but lacked penetration in their passing around the opposition's 18-yard-box.
The Shivajians looked threatening, particularly down the left flank, from where the side's first real chance came as Narzary's header was pushed away by Gomes.
Although the home side had some good chances to take the lead in the first half, they failed to act sharply and failed to bring precision in the final third of the field.
DSK Shivajians, slowly and steadily, began to take control of the proceedings. Narzary looked in good spirit and seemed to have been central to the home side's game plan as an attacking outlet, but they faltered in the final third.
Past the half-hour mark, Biaklian Paite failed to find the back of an open net, to leave him red faced on 31 minutes.
As the match reached the close of the first half, a series of attempts were cleared off by Gomes in goal for Aizawl, who denied DSK from taking the lead and kept his team in the match.
As the proceedings unfurled in the second half, the home team continued to display their attacking flair with much superiority in their game.
Both managers then decided to bring on pairs of fresh legs in the final 20 minutes. Eventually, against the run of play, Laldanmawia Ralte broke the deadlock in the 85th minute, courtesy of some neat build-up play down the left flank, and Ralte had an easy tap-in to get the better of Subrata 'Spiderman' Paul.
With the win, Aizawl FC (29) go two points clear of East Bengal (27) at the top while DSK Shivajians continue to languish at the seventh spot with 11 points from 13 matches.
Churchill stun East Bengal
East Bengal's fortress Barasat was sacked as the I-League football leaders suffered their first defeat at home with Churchill Brothers securing a fine 2-1 win at the Vidyasagar Krirangan in Kolkata on Tuesday.
Churchill Brothers dominated the first 40 minutes with captain Anthony Wolfe (7th) and Ansumana Kromah (34th) handing a stunning 2-0 lead.
But Willis Plaza's introduction as a 36th minute substitution stepped up the home team's tempo as they finally pulled one back when Chris Payne (67th) fired one into the far corner after being fed by Robin Singh.
This was a third win for the Goans in their last four outings after Derick Pereira took over as coach as they looked to break into top five. They now trailed fourth and fifth placed Bengaluru FC (16) and Shillong Lajong (16) by one point.
Churchill defeated Mohun Bagan (21 points from 10 matches) by an identical margin in the last round and the loss for East Bengal (27 from 13) today would mean a big blow for the title aspirations of the city's 'Big Two'.
This was East Bengal's second defeat this season.
Surprise package of the season, Aizawl FC inflicted East Bengal their first defeat when the Mizoram outfit won 1-0 at home on February 20.
Churchill skipper and Trinidadian forward, Wolfe, easily slotted the ball home in front of an open net after goalkeeper TP Rehenesh and defender Anwar Ali made a blunder.
In yet another display of defensive lapse, Wolfe got the better of Bukenya down the left before setting up a fantastic ball to the Liberian who went past the defence easily with his dribbling skills to stun the crowd with Churchill's second goal in less than 30 minutes.
By the 51st minute, East Bengal had used all their substitutes with Morgan showing a sense of urgency by bringing a fit-again Plaza from the bench.
East Bengal looked a transformed side in the second half but could not make use of any of the opportunity.
In the 89th minute, a regulation corner from Mehtab Hossain had them a chance with Plaza almost sneaking in before Churchill substitute Pankaj Sona made a goal-line save.
Plaza wasted another opportunity in the 74th minute after being set up by Robin but the Trinidadian smashed the ball wayward.
East Bengal also survived an injury scare when their central defender Arnab Mondal collided with Wolfe in the 56th minute. Mondal needed bandage on his head but he was back on the pitch in a few minutes.
Lajong beat Minerva
Shillong Lajong beat Minerva Punjab FC 2-1 to sneak into the top four in the I-League points table at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana on Tuesday.
Samuel Lalmuanpuia (27th) opened scoring for the visitors but Karim Nurain (36th) drew parity nine minutes later. Fabio Pena (45th) scored another for Lajong at the stroke of the half-time which eventually made the difference between the two teams.
Three minutes before the half-hour mark, Samuel drew the first blood for the visitors. Within 10 minutes, Minerva striker Kareem Nurain stunned the high-flying visitors with a sublime spot-kick to level the scoreline.
Eventually, Lajong's Brazilian striker Fabio Pena struck again to leave the home side trailing at the break.
In the second half, Lajong started to attack in numbers utilising both their flanks. Fabio Pena played a vital role in organising the attacking strength of the visitors.
Kaith played a tremendous game under the posts earning his team invaluable three points. Minerva came close to scoring from Kareem's shot but his effort was blocked by Lajong's resilient backline.
Towards the end, Lajong hit the gas and Minerva box was flooded by several attacking moves by the visitors.
With the win, Lajong sneaked into the top four with 19 points from 12 outings while Minerva Punjab FC plunged to the eighth spot having gathered eight points less.
Updated Date: Mar 08, 2017 13:37 PM