Abranches sets up Dempo’s win over Air-India

MARGAO: It so happens in football sometimes that even if a team plays the best, a goal becomes difficult to come by and in the end when it really comes, there is jubilation all over.

This is exactly what happened when holders Dempo SC and Air-India clashed in the 7th round of the I-League football played at Nehru stadium, Fatorda-Margao on Saturday when Dempo emerged the ultimate deserving winners, snatching all the three  important points after they scored a solitary goal victory that came off in the 90th minute of play, though they could have scored at least 9 more had all the chances been converted into goals.
The all-important goal was scored by Joaquim Abranches with a gentle tap to beat the rival keeper Sukwinder Singh.
Not that the Dempo strikers could not guide the ball into the rival nets and in this context, one would not be wrong if one says that the ball refused to enter the nets, despite several attempts to do so.
With this win, Dempo have now collected 16 points in seven matches and occupy the top position while Air-India are lingering with only three points in their kitty in six matches.
Speaking at the post match session, Dempo coach Armando Colaco said that what counts in the end is gaining the three vital points which helps the team to take the upward momentum.
“Ultimately my boys showed their character, even as Air-India came hard with occasional counter attacks,” said the coach, adding further though the teams did not show their character so strongly today. He also said that Joaquim Abranches was on the injured list and that he is the one who asked him to take the field despite injuries and that the other striker Ryuji Sueoka had a wee bit food poisoning. Even then the boys did well, said the coach.
Air-India coach Anthony Fernandes did not attend the press briefings and therefore could not make a statement on the team’s performance.
Though there was not much of action at the goal mouth in the first half of play, though Air-India had two opportunities, Dempo had three good chances  to surge ahead  and none of them yielded the desired results.
The first half proceedings were slow and cautious.
The second half however, was almost dominated entirely by Dempo and at least six  smart moves went in vain without finding the target from close distances. It was the seventh attempt in the second half which came in the dying minutes of the match that fetched Dempo the match winner.
It was the Air-India that attacked in the 6th minute of play, which came off following a throw-in which saw M Pradeep sending a weak left-footer which went off the target.
In the very next minute, Dempo retaliated when Ryuji Sueoka could have done much better with his header off a neat cross from Joaquim Abranches.
Eleven minutes later, Dempo attacked again and this time a Clifford Miranda’s shot was saved by the rival keeper and soon after there was another move which fizzled out even though Dempo took the ball deep inside the rival box.
The proceedings then went on at a slow pace and suddenly in the 38th and 39th minute there was fierce action at either end.
First it was the Air-India team which saw midfielder Micky Fernandes striking the cross bar and then quickly Abranches fed Sueoka on a counter but the last named shot a wee bit wide.
But in the second session, Dempo really went in for the killer but what eluded them was the much important goal. During this spell, Abranches saw his effort hitting the cross bar off a cross from Clifford Miranda and then quickly  defender Samir Naik sent a cross to Abranches whose good header missed the target narrowly. Very soon, defender Mahesh Gawli also saw his header missing the mark.
Air-India made a counter move in the 55th minute but Dempo’s youthful goalkeeper made a bright save off Air-India’s speedy striker Junior Obagbemiro.
Dempo went on attacking thereafter and Sueoka came close to finding the mark when he tapped the ball towards the rival goal off a pass from Abranches, but the ball refused to enter the nets still.
Defender Debabrata Roy was then seen sending a cross to Sueoka but the striker’s header again missed the mark.
Suddenly, Air-India counter-attacked, wherein one saw a fierce drive from Micky Fernandes from 35 yards but Dempo’s confident-looking keeper young Tyson Caiado brought off a spectacular save.
Dempo drafted in Rohan Ricketts, Romeo Fernandes and Valeriano Rebello to build more pressure and these substitutions went a long way in helping Dempo to register the victory.
Ricketts was at his best when he began to mesmarise the rival defenders with his quick footwork and fine touch to the ball and could have found the mark on two occasions.
Finaly, in the 90th minute came the much needed goal off a combined move from Sueoka and Romeo. It was Sueoka who crossed the ball to Romeo from the right flank and Romeo who received the ball on the left flank then passed it to Joaquim Abranches at the goal mouth, who just had to tap the ball to send it to the far corner of the nets.
East Bengal blank ONGC
KOLKATA: The confidence one would expect from a side playing at home was abundantly on display as East Bengal toyed with giant-killer ONGC FC 5-0 in a seventh round match of the I-League at Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium on Saturday.
ONGC were reduced to 10 men early in the second half when their defender Sandeep Sangha received his second booking of the match. But the concession in numbers in the opponent ranks could not rob East Bengal of the credit of being the deserving winners.
The weekend crowd of around 15,000 were treated to a feast of attacking football as East Bengal played a superlative second half to realise the big scoreline and also cemented its position on top of the league standings in the process. Edeh Chidi, Orji Penn, Manandeep Singh, and substitutes Lalrindika Ralte and Robin Singh completed the sequence of scoring process as East Bengal cruised to its third successive win.
East Bengal started cautiously looking to assess their opponent. ONGC could not reproduce the flair that gave them the upset win against Dempo at their home in Ambedkar Stadium. Shaking off the initial lethargy, East Bengal found the lead in the 26th minute when Chidi broke through the ONGC defence and complimented a nice assist from Ishfaq Ahmed.
A nice essay of coordination between its three Nigerians saw the second goal in the 51st minute. Uga Okpara set up a long floater which Chidi nodded down inside the box for Penn to tap home. East Bengal’s efforts for more goals were aided in the 59th minute when Sangha was red carded for his second bookable offence.
Manandeep Singh made it 3-0 in the 66th minute with a spectacular right-footer as the ball curled past the ONGC goalkeeper Prosenjit Ghosh before finding the back of the net. As the East Bengal coach Trevor James Morgan introduced fresh legs looking to continue the scoring process Lalrindika Ralte, who came in the 69th minute for Ishfaq, justified his coach’s confidence scoring the fourth in the 78th minute. Robin Singh, a 58th minute substitute for Chidi, ended the scoring process with a spectacular left-footer in the 82nd minute.
Churchill pip Lajong
SHILLONG: A brilliant goal from Akram Moghrabi in injury time helped Churchill Brothers earn full points against hosts Shillong Lajong in the round seven match of the I-League here at JN Sports Complex on Saturday. With this win Churchill have 15 points from seven matches.
There was not much of action in the first half to write about except in the 25th minute  when unmarked Akram Moghrabi failed to control a nice ball by skipper Henri  Arnaud A Rebienot. Had Akram controlled the ball and took a try on target  the story would have been different and the result was 0-0 at the lemon break.
Changing over, it was Lajong who dominated proceedings, but the lady luck failed to smile over them. In the 56th minute, Eugenson Lyngdoh volleyed the ball over the rival defenders and set it for Sushil Kumar Singh whose shot was inches off target.
In the 64th minute, the tourists came close to changing the score when Bineesh Balan volleyed the ball and for Akram to nod home. But his shot kissed the post and went wide.
As the match was on its way for the long whistle, Akram Moghrabi, taking a long try, found the back of the net and earned three points for his team the man of the match award for himself.
Moga salvages Pune FC draw  
PUNE: South Sudanese striker James Moga finally came into his own flow, but despite scoring two goals, Pune FC struggled to a 2-2 draw against Bhaichung Bhutia inspired United Sikkim FC, at the Balewadi Sports Complex stadium here on Saturday.
Moga was off the blocks in the very first minute after Gurjinder Singh fed him a pass soon after the kick-off. But early celebrations were doused when Pune FC goalkeeper Shahinlal Meloly was beaten twice within a minute that saw United Sikkim go 2-1 up.
DG Attivi scored in the 26th minute and then Safar Sardar made it 2-1 in the 27th minute to leave Pune FC fans in daze. Moga equalized in the 68th minute to give Derrick Pereira’s side the much needed respite in the Round VII match of the I-League football championship.
The draw left Pune FC in the No 7 position with 10 points from six matches, in the I-League standings, though they have a match in hand. United Sikkim stayed at No 13 with 5 points.