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Okoro scores thrice for East Bengal
February 08, 2003 22:22 IST
Nigerian striker Mike Okoro struck thrice as East Bengal thrashed minnows Hindustan Aeronautics 4-1 in an one-sided match in the seventh National Football League in Kolkata on Saturday.
Okoro, who has been showing dazzling form this season, missed a hat-trick but improved his individual tally to 10 to equal Mohun Bagan's George Ekeh as the top scorer in the league so far.
Ghanaian Suley Musah scored the other goal for the hosts while Niegrian Kenneth Onu reduced the margin for the visitors at the Salt Lake stadium.
With this win, East Bengal culled 30 points from 12 outings while HAL remained at the lower end of the league table with seven points from 12 matches.
The first goal came from a set-piece move initiated by M Suresh, who essayed a fine through pass to Alvito D'Cunha from the left. With the HAL goalkeeper Subhash Kumar closing in, D'Cunha sent a back pass to the right for an advancing Okoro, who made no mistake, shooting home from close in the 21st minute.
East Bengal, who missed a few chances thereafter, increased the scoreline to 2-0 in the 38th minute. Musah found himself unmarked inside the box as he trapped an Arun Malhotra free kick down the middle and slotted home with an angular shot past a diving Kumar.
Okoro scored his his second, the third of his team in the dying minutes before the break, by converting a penalty which was awarded after HAL's Abjeet fouled Subhas Chakraborty inside the box.
Up by a three-goal margin in the first session, the Kolkata giants appeared to have lost the tempo after the breather. An off-colour S Venkatesh wasted a couple of opportunities before being replaced by Chandan Das in the initial minutes of the second session.
HAL, on the other hand, could hardly build up any positive attacks and instead tried some long rangers but to no effect.
East Bengal scored their last goal from a sudden move in the 75th minute. Brazilian Douglas Santos sent a long pass from the left for substitute S Malsamtluanga, who forayed into the box, down the right, before essaying a cross-pass for Okoro. The nimble-footed striker had no problem in netting past a helpless HAL goalkeeper.
Two minutes later, HAL reduced the margin against the run of the play as an advancing Kenneth Onu, chasing a long pass along with M Suresh, entered the box, saw the East Bengal custodian Sandip Nandy closing in and gently pushed the ball over his head.
D'Cunha missed the easiest chance of the day during the fag end of the match as he failed to net a rebound from handshaking distance with the HAL goalie at his mercy.