Salgaocar FC picked up their first home win of the season today as they breezed past East Bengal by a margin of 3-1 at the Tilak Maidan.
The result came as a shocking performance as the Greens had been struggling for a while to get the required results, but an inspiring performance against the Red and Golds gave them much needed three points.
There were a plethora of changes in Salgaocar FC lineup from their loss to Mohun Bagan. Calvin Mbarga, Semboi Haokip started in the forward line with Darryl Duffy while Saran Singh started in the back.
The game got off the best possible start for Salgaocar FC, as Haokip put the Goan side ahead in the third minute. Darryl Duffy’s cross from the right was received by the striker who took one touch and blasted it past Luis Barreto into the back of the net.
However, there was an immediate blow to Salgaocar in the 10th minute as the Hero I-League’s leading goal scorer, Darryl Duffy, picked up a groin injury, and had to be substituted by Jackichand Singh.
East Bengal scored the equalizer in the 27th minute through Ranti Martins who netted his eighth goal of the season. The goal was manufactured by a horrible back-pass by Keenan Almeida, which was tapped by the Nigerian past Karanjit Singh.
Salgaocar were back in the lead in the 36th minute after Calvin Mbarga scored from the spot to make it 2-1. Jackichand Singh was brought down in the box by Mallick and the Cameroonian made no mistake in the tense moment.
At half-time, it stood at 2-1 to the home side. The second half started at a pedestrian pace as compared to the first. The first chance came in the 64th minute, where Haokip narrowly missed the opportunity to extend the lead. Brian put in an inch-perfect ball from the left, but Haokip somehow failed to turn the ball at the back of the net from point blank distance.
A moment of madness in the 78th minute ensured that Sehnaj Singh was shown a straight red card for a rash tackle on Jackichand Singh and the game went in Salgaocar’s grasp who tried to utilize the one-man advantage.
The drama began to unfold in the added time of the second half as Bernard Mendy’s intelligent free-kick was kept out by an alert Karanjit Singh.
Haokip finally nailed the final on in East Bengal coffin in the penultimate minute, as a misplaced pass in midfield by Calvin Mbarga landed on his feet and the forward fired it past Barreto.
The win comes as a fresh air for Salgaocar FC but raises serious questions on East Bengal’s title aspirations.