NorthEast United inched closer to a play-off berth with a 2-1 win over 10-man SC East Bengal in an Indian Super League match at the Fatorda Stadium, in Margao, on Tuesday.
Suhair Vadakkepeedika's (48th) strike and an own goal from Sarthak Golui (55th) put NorthEast United ahead before SC East Bengal pulled one back in the 87th minute.
The win took Khalid Jamil's side back into the top four. They now have 30 points from 19 matches, level on points with FC Goa in third.
NorthEast United now need just a point from their final league match against Kerala Blasters to qualify for the play-offs.
NorthEast made one change as Nim Dorjee came in for Ashutosh Mehta. East Bengal made eight changes to their side which lost to ATK Mohun Bagan as only Matti Steinmann, Sarthak Golui and Raju Gaikwad were retained in the playing XI.
Despite not having regulars, SCEB made life difficult for NorthEast. The Highlanders had a few half-chances but East Bengal contained them well. Mirshad Michu made an early save to deny Deshorn Brown from close when he toe-poked a Luis Machado pass from inside the box.
Michu was forced into yet another save when Suhair tried a shot from a distance. The rebound travelled to Machado, whose attempt was fruitless.
Later, Machado and Brown combined from a set-piece but the Jamaican was unable to trouble Michu. SCEB's Jeje Lalpekhlua had a good chance in the 35th minute but his header went wide.
With no clear-cut chances for either side and the match was mostly restricted to the midfield, the teams went in level at the break.
It was a different NorthEast side in the second session. They took the lead from their first chance of the half. Picking up the ball from the left, Imran Khan drove forward before serving an accurate through pass to Suhair, who scored his first goal of the campaign.
The Highlanders intensified their attacks after taking the lead and it didn't take long to get their second. But this time it was an own-goal that doubled their lead.
Dorjee whipped in a cross from the right and in an attempt to clear, Sarthak sliced the ball off his shin into the back of the net.
Things went from bad to worse for the Kolkata team who had to play the last 20 minutes with a man less. Gaikwad brought down Brown outside the box and the referee showed him his second yellow.
With less than five minutes on the clock, Sarthak redeemed himself with a fine goal. Surchandra Singh delivered the freekick right into the middle that Sarthak nodded in.
Mason Robertson's brace takes Real Kashmir to top of I-League table
Mason Robertson's fine brace helped a dominant Real Kashmir FC beat Aizawl FC 3-1 and jump to the top of the I-League table at the VYBK Stadium in Kolkata.
After a defensive error had given Aizawl FC the lead through Lalremsanga in the 26th minute, Lukman Adefemi's strike in the first half and a double by Robertson in the second powered the Snow Leopards to a thumping win.
With the win, Real Kashmir FC extended their unbeaten streak to nine games and could remain on top of the I-League table, if Churchill Brothers drop points against NEROCA on Wednesday.
In what was a cagey first half between the two sides, it took two moments of defensive errors from either team to let the other score. However, it was Aizawl who tried to breach the Real Kashmir FC citadel with their possession-heavy style of football from the opening minutes.
In the eighth minute, Real Kashmir goalkeeper Mithun Samanta was forced to make his first save of the match when Ramhlunchhunga sent a powerful shot. But it was to no avail as Samanta kept the shot out.
The Snow Leopards, boasting one of the best defences in the league so far, relied on counter-attack and direct football. That almost paid dividends for them in the 14th minute when midfielder Farhan Gani sent Dipanda Dicka on to the goal. But Dicka's effort was cut short by a crunching Lalchungnunga tackle.
A defensive error in the 26th minute saw the Snow Leopards citadel crumble while giving Aizawl FC the lead.
A goal-kick by Aizawl FC's custodian was misjudged by Mason Robertson and the ball bounced over him as it caught Pawan Kumar in an awkward position. It ultimately led to Lalremsanga picking up the pieces and slotting it past a hapless Samanta.
Real Kashmir trailed only eight minutes and in the 34th minute, Robertson made amends. With the Aizawl FC defence switched off, Robertson's long throw-in from the left flank found Lukman Adefemi, who unleashed a header from close range to restore parity.
The Snow Leopards were given a golden opportunity to surge into the lead when Lukman Adefemi's header off a Robertson cross forced the opposition goalkeeper to make a save.
The rebound, however, found Dicka inside the box, but with the goalkeeper out of his line and no real covering at goal, Dicka skied his shot from close range as Aizawl survived.
Yan Law's Aizawl were not so lucky in the 56th minute. Pratesh Shirdokar's free-kick from a distance found Robertson in the box and his free header found the bottom-right corner to hand Real Kashmir the lead.
In the 68th minute, Robertson's long throw-in once again found Lukman Adefemi inside the box in almost a replay of the first goal. However, this time, the Aizawl FC goalkeeper heroically saved Adefemi's header to deny him from close range.
Scotsman Robertson was not done with the action, however. In the 72nd minute, he stood tall over a free-kick from 30 yards out and curled it into the back of the net to make it 3-1.
Though Aizawl FC tried to make a comeback, the lead proved to be unassailable for Yan Law's side.
With the loss, Aizawl FC sit on 12 points from nine matches and could find themselves in the bottom half of the table before the round ends.
Mohammedan's Suraj turns super-sub with stunning injury-time winner against 10-man Chennai City
Suraj Rawat's stunning long-range strike in the injury time gave Mohammedan Sporting a 2-1 win over Chennai City FC at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium in Kalyani.
Ranjeet Pandre's 19th minute strike was cancelled by Sujit Sadhu's 54th minute header after Tarif Akhand was sent off in the 49th minute, but Rawat's majestic strike proved to be the difference between the two teams in the end.
The Black Panthers, despite dominating possession, failed to make the most of their chances and suffered a jolt early on due to a defensive that resulted in a goal. They gifted Chennai City a goal in the 19th minute.
Defender Kingsley Eze failed to make a routine clearance after a whipped-in cross from Jishnu Balakrishnan awkwardly bounced for him. The cross fell delightfully for Ranjeet Pandre, who slotted home from close range to give Chennai the lead.
Mohammedan, however, regrouped in the 28th minute and new signing Pedro Manzi set up Faisal Ali inside the box. An onrushing Ali, however, could only shoot wide of the goal.
But the best chance of the first half for Mohammedan came in the 40th minute when John Chidi combined with Pedro Manzi inside the box. But Chidi's final effort lacked precision as it rattled the post and went out.
Chennai City were dealt a heavy blow in the early minutes of the second half when defender Tarif Akhand was shown a second yellow card after handling the ball. Reduced to ten men, Chennai City FC committed bodies in defence to safeguard their lead.
The Black Panthers equalized in the 55th minute after Sujit Sadhu found the back of the net with a thumping header off a corner kick.
It could have been two goals in as many minutes had Pedro Manzi not skewed his chance wide of goal after he was put on to goal and had just opposition goalkeeper to beat.
Chennai City had a glorious chance to score in the 84th minute after a low cross from the left found Vineeth Kumar inside the box. After setting himself up with a good touch, Vineeth shot over the bar from handshaking distance.
But, there was another twist left in the tale. In the stoppage time, Rawat, a former Indian Arrows player, smashed home from a distance off an assist from Tirthankar Sarkar to hand Mohammedan Sporting all three points.