I-League: Aizawl, East Bengal keep pace but setback for Bagan

Aizawl FC continued their enviable home run as they beat Mumbai FC 2-0 with Ivorian forward Kamo Bayi netting a brace at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Mizoram.

Aizawl FC started well with Alfred Jaryan nearly giving the home team the lead in the seventh minute. They continued to dominate the half with more chances from Jayesh Rane and Jayram as keeper Laxmikant Kattimani was kept busy throughout the first 45.

Less than 10 minutes into the second half, Aizawl FC came close again. Kamo played defender Kingsley Obumneme through and his shot from the inside border of the box shook the woodwork.

After a series of unsuccessful attempts, Aizawl finally secured themselves a lead in the 65th minute. A timely assist by midfielder Brandon Vanlalremdika was received by Bayi Kamo who opened the scoreline with a thunderous left-footed shot.

Aizawl FC further doubled their lead in the 78th minute. Al Amna's pass from outside the box was easily converted by Kamo to take his goal-scoring tally to four this season.

After this win today, Aizawl FC are neck and neck with East Bengal and Mohun Bagan at the top of the table. Mumbai FC, however, are just above bottom-placed Chennai City and are winless in their last 10 games.

"The deserving team won," Mumbai coach Santosh Kashyap said after the game. "We did not have enough time to practise because of the festival yesterday which slowed down the traffic on our way to the grounds."

East Bengal pass tough Shillong test

East Bengal ensured that they continue to enjoy pole position after beating Shillong Lajong FC 2-1 in a well contested I-League match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong on Saturday.

The visitors had the match firmly in their control in the first-half, thanks to a brace by Australian striker Christopher Payne (8′, 33′), but Lajong, who were superior in possession, put one back through in-form striker Dipanda Dicka in the 64th minute.

Poor finishing, despite having good phases of possession played a part as Shillong lost their first game at home this season.

East Bengal's early lead came via a defensive lapse by the Lajong. Goalkeeper Vishal Kaith had a lapse of judgement which led to Payne's easy tap-in.

Unbeaten at home this season, Lajong got down to business and almost converted three minutes later when Dicka headed wide. Things got worse for the home team as the search for the equalizer remained elusive. After the half-hour mark, Payne scored his brace to make it 2-0. Left unmarked upfront, Payne made the most of a curled ball directing it to the far left corner of the net.

Shillong kept asking questions but failed to find the goal until the hour mark. Top-scorer of the league, Dicka headed one in off a sharp Samuel Shadap cross to bring the hosts right back into the contest.

Chances were aplenty for Lajong, but East Bengal held on to remain at the top of the table. Lajong, meanwhile, remain grounded at fourth.

Come-from-behind win for Churchill

In Vasco, Churchill Brothers dealt a heavy blow to Mohun Bagan's title pursuit by securing a dramatic come-from-behind 2-1 win.

Prabir Das (24′) gave Bagan a first-half lead before two second-half goals from Anthony Wolfe (65′) and Chesterpoul Lyngdoh (74′) secured all three points for the Goan club.

The win propelled the Goan side to sixth place in the table while Bagan remained third in the standings with two games still in hand.

In the 24th minute Sony Norde, who was operating on the left flank, beat Keenan Almeida on the wing before picking out Das with a perfect cross. Das managed to get a jump over defender Adil Khan and directed a glancing header past Naveen Kumar, who was left stranded on his goal line. Bagan held onto the 1-0 lead until half-time despite some late pressure.

Churchill started the second half strongly and found a way back into the match as Wolfe equalised in the 65th minute thanks to a defensive lapse by Bagan. Churchill then took the lead in the 75th minute from a brilliant combination by Brandon Fernandes and Lyngdoh. Fernandes dribbled his way to the touchline before putting in a cross into the six-yard box. Lyngdoh threw himself at the cross and headed the ball into the net.

Late in the second half, the match had to be held up for 39 minutes due to a power outage at the stadium.