Punjab FC beat Rajasthan United 2-0 in bizarre I-League match

Punjab FC began their I-League campaign with a 2-0 win over debutants Rajasthan United who were left with just nine men before their maiden match following a confusion in the registration of amateur players.

Punjab had the majority of the possession throughout the ill-tempered match and they were on the verge of scoring in the 11th minute but Rajasthan goalkeeper Vishal Joon made a brilliant save.

The resistance from Rajasthan wilted as Kurtis Guthrie took advantage of a mix-up between Joon and Anil Chawan in the 27th minute and headed the ball over the goalkeeper to give Punjab FC the lead.

The second half began with another offensive surge from the Punjab team as they continued their hunt for another goal.

Punjab coach Ashley Westwood was shown a yellow card in the 65th minute and there were some heated exchange of words off the pitch between the referees and the bench players.

Some people in the stands were also shown the red card as play was halted. Punjab Midfielder C K Vineeth also had to go from the bench after being shown the red card in the 68th minute.

Punjab had another big chance in the 76th minute as substitute Aakash Sangwan made a perfect cross to find Kurtis Owen who, however, could not connect it properly.

Punjab found their second goal in the 90th minute as Maheson Singh Tongbram’s corner found Sangwan who directed it towards the goal and Aphaoba Singh Ashangbam very cheekily took the final touch on the ball to seal the game for his team.

Earlier in the day, Rajasthan United were left to play their maiden I-League match against Punjab FC with just nine players, instead of 11, due to the confusion over the registration of amateurs.

The Jaipur-based side, which had made it to the I-League after winning the qualifying tournament in October, acknowledged that the situation arose due to “errant decision making” by the club.

Gokulan Kerala begin with a victory

Defending champions Gokulam Kerala began their I-League title defence with a 1-0 win over last season’s runners-up Churchill Brothers here on Sunday.

Gokulam Kerala skipper Sharif Mohammad scored the solitary goal of the match from the penalty spot early in the first half.

Both teams made a nervy start to the game as they employed direct attacking football by way of long balls at opponents’ citadel.

The Malabarians found the breakthrough after being awarded a penalty in the 16th minute. As the pacy Ngangom Ronald Singh skilfully surged with the ball into the Churchill Brothers box, he was brought down by Lebanese Shadi Skaf.

Skipper Sharif Mohammad stepped up to take the resultant spot kick and calmly slotted the ball into the bottom left corner to give Gokulam the advantage.

Churchill Brothers’ first big chance of the game fell in the way of Bryce Miranda in the 21st minute, when Brazilian Guilherme Dos Santos sent Miranda in the clear. Miranda’s shot was, however, saved brilliantly by Gokulam goalkeeper Rakshit Dagar.

Gokulam Kerala nearly doubled their lead in the added time of first half. Midfielder Thahir Zaman produced a fantastic snapshot from an angle which beat Churchill Brothers goalkeeper Shilton Paul, but he was denied by the woodwork.

Churchill Brothers increased the tempo of their play in the second half but could not create any clear scoring chance.

As Churchill Brothers hunted an equaliser, the best chance of the second half again fell to the Malabarians in the 68th minute.

Ronald Singh, who was a constant menace for the Churchill defence from the right flank, again got the better of his marker and sent an inch-perfect cross. But, Thahir Zaman could not get a clean contact on his header and Shilton Paul did not have much difficulty in clearing it.

From the subsequent corner, Cameroonian Aminou Bouba’s free header sailed inches above the bar.

TRAU and Indian Arrows play out goal-less draw in I-League opener

TRAU and Indian Arrows played out a goal-less draw in the opening match of the I-League at the Mohun Bagan ground here on Sunday.

Despite both the teams getting plenty of shots on target, they shared points after the stalemate.

Indian Arrows started with a 4-4-2 set-up with skipper Parthib Gogoi leading the attacking troops. TRAU, who had finished third last year, had a 4-3-3 formation with Krishnananda Singh and Joseph Olaleye in front line.

In the sixth minute, Parthib Gogoi managed to get a shot from close distance, but TRAU goalkeeper Amrit Gope made a clean save.

The team from Imphal fell slightly behind Indian Arrows in terms of possession as the game settled down in first half. But the AIFF developmental side could not convert the possession into goal-scoring opportunities.

In the 20th minute, Mohammad Fayazuddin Shah’s run from the left created a moment of panic in Indian Arrows’ half. But Kishan Singh, who sprinted quickly to collect the cross from Fayazuddin, also hit the ball over the goal post.

In the 28th minute, TRAU had the best chance of the first half, as Naresh Singh sent a cross from the right but Akobir Turaev’s header was deflected away by Sajad Hussain Parray on the goalline and Indian Arrows breathed a sigh of relief.

TRAU started the second half with high intensity. Indian Arrows goalkeeper Ahan made a brave save in the 59th minute after Turaev’s right-footed shot on the turn almost gave TRAU the lead.

Turaev continued to make threatening penetrations inside the box, but he was caught offside in the 77th minute, just when it looked like he might open the scoring.

In the 89th minute, Sajad Parray’s challenge on TRAU player earned him his second yellow card of the match, and he was sent off, leaving Indian Arrows one man short. But they defended well in the injury time and and continued to keep the possession.

Harsh Patre suffered an injury and limped out of the ground with a minute to go in the match, leaving Arrows with nine men. But Indian Arrows fought valiantly till the final whistle and the match ended in a 0-0 draw.

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