ISL: Resilient SC East Bengal pile further misery on Bengaluru FC
Matti Steinmann's first-half strike proved to be the difference as SC East Bengal beat Bengaluru FC 1-0 to record their second win of the Indian Super League, in Margao, on Saturday.
The Kolkata team is now unbeaten in their last five games, while BFC's misery continued with their fourth consecutive defeat this season.
Erik Paartalu returned to the Bengaluru starting XI after serving his one-match suspension as Naushad Moosa made four changes in his first game as interim coach. While Udanta Singh was also in the first XI, Moosa handed first start to the defenders Parag Srivas and Ajith Kumar.
SCEB made just one change with Jacques Maghoma replacing Aaron Amadi-Holloway. Skipper Daniel Fox made the line-up after his red card against FC Goa was earlier overturned.
Bengaluru had early chances in the game but struggled to get the goals. First, it was Sunil Chhetri, whose lob-shot over the rival defense was easily dealt with by Debjit Majumder.
Cleiton Silva soon had a chance to put his side ahead in the 15th minute. But the Brazilian failed to direct his header at the goal after Juan Antonio González had pushed Parag Shrivas' long throw-in in the box.
Steinmann put SCEB in the lead in the 20th minute with a fine outside-foot finish. Ankit Mukherjee's cross was not dealt with cleanly by Ajith and Juanan and it found Narayan Das on the left. Narayan then played a low cross to Steinmann who scored his third of the season.
SCEB were in total control of the game at this point and made Bengaluru chase shadows. The Kolkata side created a couple of chances before the half-hour mark and nearly extended their lead.
Ankit sent in a perfect cross into the box, but Narayan's diving finish diverted it wide. Minutes later, another chance went begging for SCEB, as Harmanpreet Singh couldn't get to the end of Ankit's through pass.
Bengaluru put up a much-improved performance in the second half. Chhetri played a one-two with Kristian Opseth and on entering the box tried his luck with a powerful strike but his effort was saved by Debjit.
Clearly the better side in the second half, Bengaluru continued with their dominance but a goal eluded them.
At the hour mark, it was Chhetri once again with a ferocious strike from outside the box, but Debjit refused to let it past.
Bengaluru piled on the pressure in the final minutes, but SCEB's defense stood tall to deny their opponents an equaliser.
Former champions Chennai City beat Gokulam Kerala 2-1 in I-League
Former champions Chennai City FC defeated Gokulam Kerala FC 2-1 in their opening match of the I-League, Kalyani, on Saturday.
Vijay Naggapan's 50th-minute strike proved to be the difference between the two sides after Gokulam Kerala's third-minute strike by Dennis Antwi was cancelled out by Elvedin Skrijelj's 26th-minute penalty.
Gokulam Kerala FC wasted no time and took the lead in the third minute with Dennis Antwi firing home from close range following a quick corner.
Chennai City's Singaporean signing Iqubal came close to bagging an equaliser from a freekick in the eighth minute. Shortly after, Philip Adjah could have found the net for Gokulam FC but shot wide of the target from outside of the box.
In the 26th minute, Chennai City's Serbian import Vladimir Molerovic was brought down inside the box. The other Serbian import for Chennai, Elvedin Skrijelj, scored from the spot to level the scores.
It took Chennai City five minutes into the second half to take the lead. Vijay Naggapan played a delightful one-two with Demir Avdic to find the back of the net.
Vincent Barreto could have levelled the scores once again in the 55th minute when a wayward ball landed at his feet inside the Chennai City box. Barreto, however, failed to find the net.
Gokulam pressed hard to find the equaliser but Chennai City defended as a compact unit to hold on to the lead.
Punjab FC begin I-League campaign with 1-0 win over Aizawl FC
Pritam Ningthoujam's spectacular long-range strike helped Punjab FC open their I-League campaign on a winning note as they beat Aizawl FC 1-0.
Ningthoujam's 18th-minute goal gave Punjab FC three points in a high-intensity match.
Aizawl FC created clear goal-scoring opportunities throughout the match but failed to convert any one of them.
In the 10th minute, Princewell Emeka tried to backheel a pass to an onrushing Brandon inside the box, whose shot was blocked, as Aizawl FC wasted a golden opportunity to go ahead.
Eight minutes later, Pritam Ningthoujam unleashed a powerful strike from outside of the box to hand the Punjab outfit a 1-0 lead, much against the run of play.
Chencho Gyeltshen could have doubled the lead had his touch inside the box been better after collecting a cross from the right flank.
With all the possession in the final third, Aizawl FC lacked creativity upfront and were easily diffused by Punjab's defensive line. Despite dominating possession and pressing their opponents constantly, Aizawl FC did not have any goals to show.
The Mizoram side earned a golden opportunity to grab an equaliser in the 62nd minute after Alfred Jaryan found himself inside the box but his shot from a tight angle was blocked by the opponents.
Another opportunity came to Aizawl's Lalremsanga Fanai in the 73rd minute, when he was put right onto the goal by a defence-splitting through-ball by Laldinpuia. Fanai, with only the goalkeeper to beat, fired his shot right at Kiran Chemjong, who kept the ball out and maintained his clean sheet.