While Mohun Bagan and Mumbai FC secured narrow wins in their opening matches, newcomers Chennai City and Minerva Punjab played out a goalless draw in the I-League on Sunday.
The game between Chennai and Minerva featured numerous missed opportunities at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai
Chennai City's keeper Karanjit Singh had a stellar game in goal keeping out several of Minerva's attempts. But it was Chennai City who came closest to finding the net and will rue their missed chances in either half as they settled for a point.
Lalnun Mawia in the first half and Marcos Tank in the final few minutes of the game were both guilty of wasting golden opportunities for Chennai City. Minerva, to their credit, also attacked well, were solid at the back and would have had a goal to their name if it wasn't for Karanjit Singh's heroics.
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Chennai started the quicker of the two teams, but it was Minerva's Manandeep Singh, who had the first big chance of the match in the 30th minute. Joel Sunday cut back a ball to Manandeep in the box, whose first-time shot was saved by Karanjit. Four minutes, Lalnun Mawia found himself unmarked in the box at the other end of the pitch, but hit his left-footed shot straight at keeper Ravi Kumar.
The second half was a scrappy affair, but Chennai could have won it late on when Zakeer Mundampara found an unmarked Marcos Tank, who, with plenty of time shoot, released a feeble shot while trying to open up his body and curl it past the keeper.
10-man Bagan hold on to beat Churchill
Ten-man Mohun Bagan held on to a 1-0 win over Churchill Brothers in their opening match of the I-League at the Rabindra Sarovar Stadium in Kolkata on Sunday.
Balwant Singh's goal early in the first half was enough as Churchill failed to take advantage of the extra man after Subashish Bose was sent off in the 64th minute.
Despite having little time to prepare for the season, Churchill Brothers, who are making a comeback to the top division after four seasons, put in a formidable performance against a strong Mohun Bagan side.
Katsumi Yusa excelled for Bagan as the home side were comfortable in the lead until the red card. Churchill dominated possession in the final 20 minutes, but couldn't really create a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Darryl Duffy and Balwant Singh were leading the line for Bagan with Jeje Lalpekhlua on the bench. But it was Katsumi who created the first goal. The Japanese dissected the Churchill defence to find Pritam Kotal, who on his overlapping run on the right flank put in a perfect cross for Balwant to head home in the 28th minute. Bagan had come close to scoring the opener minutes before the goal, when Duffy was denied by keeper Priyant Singh, who came flying in to thwart an onrushing Duffy. Kean Lewis had a chance to score on the rebound, but he hit it straight at the keeper.
Churchill can take positives from the fact they kept the ball ticking in the middle of the park and Kinglsee Fernandes put in an industrious display to earn the man of the match award. The Goan side, however, missed a clinical finisher up front as all their possession didn't translate into any chances in the final third.
Bagan kept the pressure on Churchill until Subashish Bose was sent off for a second yellow card in the space of ten minutes. His first card was for a push on Keenan Almeida, his second a needless tackle on Seriton Fernandes. While Bagan did create a few chances even after the dismissal, it was Churchill, who intensified their search for an equaliser.
The Goan side almost found the back of the net in the 93rd minute when Angelo Colaco was put through right at the edge of box, but his swerving shot hit the crossbar.
In the end, Bagan did just enough to earn all three points and start the season on a winning note.
Mumbai secure narrow win over Shivajians
Thoi Singh was the hero as Mumbai FC edged DSK Shivajians 1-0 in a tight encounter at the Cooperage Ground in Mumbai.
The midfielder's sumptuous goal from outside the box in the 21st minute was enough to get Santosh Kashyap his first win as Mumbai boss.
Kim Song Yong was always a threat for DSK Shivajians, but Laxmikant Kattimani and his back four were solid in goal for Mumbai as they kept the pressure on the top with the win.
Debutant Thoi Singh excelled with Steven Dias in midfield, with Victorino Fernandes also making his debut for Mumbai. After a slow first half, DSK coach Dave Rogers bought on Sumeet Passi and Jerry Lalrinzuala to help them find the equaliser. But it wasn't to be as the Pune-based team failed to trouble a well-oiled Mumbai team.