Kolkata/Kolhapur//Panaji/Gurgaon, Jan 8, 2010 (Calcutta Tube/IBNS): Title aspirants East Bengal returned to the victory trail in the I-Leauge at 8th round with 1-0 result against Pune FC at Yubabharati Krirangan on Saturday.
Australian recruit Tolgay Ozbey once more proved how best his scoring ability was and sealed winner in the 63rd minute to help East Bengal retain atop the pole with 22 points, five points clear from second placed Salgoacar SC, who inflicted a thrilling 4-3 defeat on former champions Churchill Brothers in Panaji,Goa. However, CB remained on 13 points in the third place
In Kolhapur Mumbai FC, who held East Bengal 1-1 in the previous game, defeated Viva Kerala 2-0 with brace from Ebi Sukure in the 67th and 90+2 to improve position of Mumbai outfit on 13 points and Viva Kerala, who recorded first win in the tournament with 2-0 results at home in the previous match, remained on seven points.
Title holders Dempo SC were held by bottom side AIFF XI 1-1 at Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Gurgaon.
Delhi based AIFF XI broke the wall first in the 8th minute with Shilton D’Silva goal but Dempo retrieved prestige twenty minutes later with goal from Ranti Martines.
Dempo were now on 4th place with 13 points and AIFF XI on eight points.
East Bengal after 1-1 results against Mumbai FC in the previous away match were on upbeat to turnaround and dominated the first half. But goal was illusive until Tolgay Ozbay fired home in the second half, his sixth goal in this edition.
East Bengal continued to press hard in search of the opener, but on the other side, from a counter attack Arata made a good move down right side, but took a weak left footed shot after dribbling past Naoba Singh.
Edmar also tried his luck, but his shot went straight to East Bengal goalkeeper. Uga Okpara, who scored against Mumabi FC, was brilliant in defence along with Gurwinder Singh.
Middle rung Pune FC returned empty handed and remained on 8 points from same number of matches.
East Bengal coach, Trevor James Morgan said, “This was a very close match and there was some nerve-wrecking moments for our supporters”.
Pune FC coach Derrick Pereira after the match said, “It was a good game and both teams had scoring chances. Ever since we started I league, we never played with both strikers, which has been a problem for us. We need Edmar and Keita to play together.”
“We missed 3 clear chances but in the last 15 minutes we were lucky that the ball hit post. Last year also we made a slow start. Actually, like Goa or Kolkata, we don’t get good match practice as there is no local league in Pune and so this hampers our preparation,” he added.
Pereira further said, “I instructed my players to be a little cautious in the first half and to go for attack after break. If we could have scored from the chances that we got, perhaps it could have been a different result. Our aim is to finish among the top 5 teams.”
Mumbai FC comfortably defeated Viva Kerela 2-0. Mumbai FC’s 27-year-old Nigerian midfielder Ebi Sukore as he scored both the goals and was named the man of the match.
In the pulsating encounter, Salgaocar SC defeated Churchill Brothers 4-3.
The local derby saw goals galore with both the teams dishing out an entertaining soccer with a fast pace and with quick short passes. Six goals were scored in the first half with Salgaocar leading 4-2 at half time.
Churchill Brothers who looked more thrustfull in their attack received a setback as their star striker Odafe Okolie had to leave the field after he pulled a calf muscle as he tried to take a free kick, but this did not deter the other team mates, as they came with a counter move and took the lead in the 20th minute.
Robert Lalthlamuana from the left half laid a through pass to Kayne Vincent who positioned himself before uncorking an angular drive to find the far corner of the net.
Salgaocar quickly retaliated and secured the equalizer in the 27th minute when defender Jaspal Parmar who received a pass via Ryuji from a free kick took a shot which deflected rival defender and eluded keeper Lalit Thapa to find the far post.
Luciano Sobrosa than put Salgaocar in the lead in the 31st minute with a powerful header off a flag kick taken by Ryuji Sueoka from the right..
But Churchill Brothers was not to throw-in the towel and found the equalizer minute later when Israil Gurung scored from inside the box off a pass from Durga Boro.
Salgaocar,who penetrated the rival boxes with quick short passes from the flank, than scored two quick goals through striker Ryuji Sueoka.
Francis Fernandes from the right let go a measured cross into the box for Ryuji who found the back of the net with a neat volley beating keeper Thapa all ends.
Ryuji than ensured Salgaocar the full points when he scored his brace from a penalty to make amends for his earlier penalty which he failed to beat keeper Thapa in the injury time of the first half.
In the second half, Churchill Brothers held the better ball possession and managed to reduce the margin when kayne Vincent found the net when he leaped high above defender Irungbam Meitei to head the ball into the net past the advancing keeper Karanjit Singh in the 65th minute.