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Sporting Clube down Mahindra again
Mario Rodrigues | January 22, 2007 19:21 IST
For the third time this season, Sporting Clube de Goa proved to be Mahindra United's nemesis. On Monday, the Goa pro league champions humbled the defending champions 1-0 in their own backyard in a fourth round National Football League match at the Cooperage, in Mumbai.
They had earlier beaten them in the Durand Cup and Federation Cup tournaments and held them goalless in the IFA Shield.
The 'Red Devils' remain on seven points following their first defeat in the league while the 'Flamin Oranges' move up the ladder after the victory to four points from an equal number of outings. (See league table on NFL page)
The charismatic McPherlin Dudu Omagbemi again proved to be Mahindras' bugbear as he booted in the match-winner in the 40th minute, off a cross from the right flank by Rajesh Meetei. The linesman signaled that the ball had crossed the goal line even though defender N S Manju had intercepted Dudu's strike, his third in this blue riband tournament.
Sporting Clube thoroughly deserved their victory as they were by far the better side today. They mounted some incisive attacks in the first session and came close to scoring on a few occasions. In the second session they stoutly defended their lead, with stopper-back and man-of-the-match Felip Gomes rising to the occasion to keep the Mahindras' hard-working Ghanaian frontline duo at bay.
Mahindras were unlucky not to get the equaliser in the 69th minute when Yusuf Yakubu's header struck the crossbar and went out from a good build up on the right, but that was the only notable attempt that the lacklustre locals had during the entire match.
Derrick Pereira's last throw of the dice, bringing in his rangy striker Abhishek Yadav, also failed to get the results, as their predictable long ball tactics were well read and neutralised by the determined visitors.
The only false note struck in Sporting's winning symphony was the booking of three of their players -- Wilton Gomes, Nicolau Borges and Dudu himself -- by referee P Bhaskar of Tamil Nadu.
The NFL will now take a three-week break while the national squad takes part in the pre-Olympic qualifiers.