SC East Bengal kick-started the new year on a bright note as they defeated Odisha FC 3-1 to bag their first win in the Indian Super League at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim, Goa, on Sunday.
First-half goals from Anthony Pilkington (12') and Jacques Maghoma (39') put SCEB ahead before substitute Bright Enobakhare (88'), making his ISL debut, joined the party late on. Diego Mauricio (90') scored the 100th goal of the ISL season but it proved to be a consolation as Odisha saw their winless run continue.
Raju Gaikwad was among the two changes made by SCEB while Odisha named an unchanged eleven from their 2-2 draw against NorthEast United.
Both sides created chances in the first half but it was SCEB who converted them and deservedly headed into the break with a two-goal cushion.
The opening goal arrived early in the 12th minute, through a set-piece. Gaikwad took a throw-in and directed it to the far post. It bounced once and fell to Pilkington, who rose above Gaurav Bora, before burying his header into the net.
Chances also fell Odisha's way but stunning back-to-back saves from goalkeeper Debjit Majumder helped SCEB keep their lead intact during the first quarter. The custodian first parried away Manuel Onwu's header and minutes later, denied Mauricio.
Pilkington was denied another goal after hitting the woodwork but a lightning strike from Maghoma helped East Bengal double their advantage in the dying minutes of the first half. Matti Steinmann fed the ball to Maghoma on the left. Prancing into the box, he made space before launching a powerful shot from a narrow angle, leaving Odisha keeper Arshdeep Singh with no chance.
Odisha began the second half strong, hoping to cut short their deficit. They came close to scoring but luck evaded them. Jerry Mawihmingthanga swung a cross into the box for Onwu, who did well to get to the ball but the striker's shot struck the far post.
There was drama late on in the contest with two goals in the final few minutes. Enobakhare put the game to bed with his second attempt after being denied the first time by Arshdeep. Two minutes later, Odisha found the net, but in the end, it proved to be too little too late.
ATK Mohun Bagan make easy deal of NEUFC
ATK Mohun Bagan continued their fine run in the Indian Super League table with a comfortable 2-0 victory over NorthEast United FC at the Fatorda Stadium in Margao on Sunday. With this win, ATKMB reclaim the top spot ahead of Mumbai City FC.
In a match that often turned into a physical affair -- six yellow cards were handed out -- a seven-minute double early in the second half settled things in favour of the Kolkata outfit. Fijian striker Roy Krishna scored his first goal from open play in nearly a month in the 51st minute. Soon, in the 58th minute, an own-goal from Benjamin Lambot increased ATKMB's lead. Antonio Lopez Habas made two changes to his ATKMB line-up with Sahil Sheikh making his first ISL start. NEUFC coach Gerard Nus changed things around with five changes to his line-up.
It was ATKMB who started brighter, keeping the ball and looking the more threatening of the two teams. However, they struggled to convert the control they had over the match into chances with NEUFC offering dogged resistance. They had a free-kick in a threatening position during the 18th minute when Krishna was fouled by Dylan Fox just outside the penalty area. The resulting cross though was headed over the bar by Carl McHugh.
Prabir Das was one of the bright sparks for ATKMB in a barren half, proving to be an important attacking outlet by playing high up the pitch. Just before the half-hour mark, Krishna spotted Prabir in a dangerous position and nearly found him only for NEUFC keeper Gurmeet Singh to make the save. Then, just before the half-hour mark, Das headed wide from a cross by Subhasish Bose.
Both teams went in locked in a goalless stalemate at half-time but the script turned on its head post the restart. It was Krishna yet again, who broke the deadlock, heading in after Tiri flicked on a corner from Edu Garcia. Just seven minutes later, ATKMB doubled their lead, this time off another corner. Lambot tried to deal with another Garcia delivery, only to inadvertently divert it into his own box.
The Highlanders were further pegged back by the goal and struggled to fashion clear-cut chances. Their best attempt on goal came in the 71st minute when Federico Gallego grazed the crossbar with a freekick. That they only had a single shot on target throughout the match was a testament to how comfortably ATKMB were able to see out the second half.
SC could hear former India goalkeeper's petition against AIFF on Monday
Former India goalkeeper Kalyan Chaubey's petition against the All India Football Federation could be heard in the Supreme Court on Monday, days after the AIFF approved an extension of its executive committee in violation of the Sports Code.
According to Chaubey, the SC listed the hearing on January 4.
On December 16, Chaubey had filed a petition before the SC, seeking to direct the AIFF to hold elections "at an early date".
But during its last Annual general Body Meeting (AGM) on December 22, when its four-year term of the current executive committee was to end, the AIFF general house approved an extension till the SC decides on a pending case.
However, AIFF president Praful Patel said he would not contest elections as and when they are held. Patel, who has been AIFF president since 2012, is ineligible to contest as per the Sports Code.
"Tomorrow could be a big day for Indian football," Chaubey told PTI on Sunday.
Six days after Chaubey filed his petition in the apex court, a resolution was passed during the virtual AIFF AGM to extend the term of the executive committee till the SC gives it verdict on framing of new constitution and election process.
In November, the AIFF had moved an application before the SC, seeking continuation of its existing executive committee beyond its term on the ground that the court-appointed administrators could not frame a new constitution to conduct elections.
Chaubey was in the Indian team as goalkeeper in the early 2000s, including in the SAFF Championships. He has played for big clubs like Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Salgaocar and JCT Mills.
The SC, in a 2017 order, had appointed a Committee of Administrators (CoA) comprising S Y Quraishi and Bhaskar Ganguli to formulate the constitution of the AIFF in consonance with the Sports Code.
Quraishi had refuted AIFF's claims that he had sought more time to prepare the draft constitution of the sports body, saying the document has already been submitted to the apex court.
He said the CoA had finalised the draft constitution in December 2019 and submitted it to the SC in January 2020 in a sealed cover as directed by the apex court.