Air India scored a stunning 2-0 victory over Dempo Sports Club to hand the favourites and former champions their third successive defeat in a tenth round I-League clash at the Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, in Goa.
Substitute Manandeep Singh (71st minute) and Collin Abranches (87th) scored wonderful long-range goals in the second session to confirm that Air India are now a far better team than the one that lost 1-4 against Mumbai FC in the opening match.
Air India did not seem like walking away with full points against Dempo especially after playing second fiddle to the hosts in the opening 45 minutes. But Santosh Kashyap's brave boys had a plan and stuck to their counter-attacking game till the end.
Dempo had plenty of ball possession in the first session but could not translate their dominance into goals.
In the second session, Air India scored much against the run of play. At a time when Dempo were mounting the pressure at the other end, Air India pressed ahead and found the opening. It came from an unexpected move as a quick throw in saw Manandeep catch the entire defence and goalkeeper Subhashish Roy Chowdhury by surprise with a snapshot that bulged the net.
Air India sealed full points when Collin Abranches trapped a ball outside the danger zone and beat the rival goalkeeper with a fierce attempt.
The result puts Dempo at the second spot (behind Churchill Brothers) with 21 points from 10 matches while Air India move to 16 points from 10 matches.
EB drop crucial points, draw with Pailan Arrows
Riding on a gritty defensive display, Pailan Arrows held Kingfisher East Bengal to a goalless draw in a crucial I-League encounter at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata. This was Pailan's fourth consecutive draw in the ongoing edition and they now move to 6 points from 10 matches while East Bengal move to 20 points from 10 matches.
For East Bengal, the trio of Uga Ukpara, Penn Orji and Tolgay Ozbey took the field from the kick-off, dismissing reports that they would not recover in time for the match.
Salgaocar edge past HAL
In another match in Bangalore, defending champions Salgaocar SC scraped past Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bangalore by a solitary goal. Salgaocar's midfield general Ryuji Sueoka made the difference between the two teams in the 65th minute. This was Salgaocar's third win in this edition and they now move to 12 points from 10 matches while HAL languish at the bottom of the table with 1 point from 10 matches. Ryuji was named the Man-of-the-match.
Mumbai FC hold Pune FC
At the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune, Mumbai FC managed to keep the slate clean when they held a strong Pune FC 0-0. Mumbai FC move to 8 points from 10 matches while Pune FC are on 15 points from 10 matches. Mumbai FC's Dhanachandra Singh was named the Man-of-the-match.