I-League: Neroca rises to 2nd with comfortable win over Indian Arrows

Katsumi Yusa, Felix Chidi and midfielder Malemnganba Meitei were on target for the home team.

Neroca FC players pose for a photograph before kick-off against Indian Arrows.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Neroca FC moved up to second place on the I-League table with a 3-0 victory over Indian Arrows at the Khuman Lampak stadium in Imphal on Friday. 

Japanese winger Katsumi Yusa, Nigerian striker Felix Chidi and midfielder Malemnganba Meitei were on target for the home team, which produced a thoroughly professional performance to record a crushing win over the Arrows. This is its first home win of the season and a better goal difference has taken Neroca above Minerva Punjab. Indian Arrows remains bottom.

Both teams fielded an unchanged eleven from their previous games. Katsumi Yusa, coming back from injury, started his second straight game and was replaced in the 70th minute while Lalit Thapa was again preferred over Italian Mauro Boerchio in the Neroca goal.

For the Arrows, Pinto started Boris Singh again in midfield before moving him back to left-back as the game progressed and left Rahim Ali as the lone man up front. Under-16 import Vikram Pratap Singh also featured in the starting line-up.

The game began on an even keel with Saran Singh getting on the end of a shot inside the Arrows box in the second minute for the host, while Rahim missed a clear chance seven minutes later. Rahim had a second chance to score in the 24th minute from a Sanjeev Stalin corner, but his header flew across the goal.

Neroca, however, was slowly began to take control. Yusa opened the scoring in the 29th minute, converting a low cross from the left flank. Rahul K. P. then missed a couple of gilt-edged chances in the first half to pull Arrows level.

Brazilian defender Eduardo, who has scored once in the campaign, had the first chance for the host after the break when he rose highest but could not connect with a Malemn free-kick.

Neroca forward Felix Chidi doubled the lead for the home team in the 54th minute with his fourth goal in four games. The Nigerian caught the Arrows defence napping on the counter and broke away with a solo run, providing a neat finish with the outstep of his right foot, beating a full-stretched Prabhsukan.

The Arrows then conceded a third with Malemn scoring his first goal for Neroca. Substitute Jitendra Singh gave the ball away on the right flank for Australian Aryn Williams to collect the loose ball and drive into the Arrows box. He then unleashed a measured cross for Malemn to tap in comfortably from close range.