I-League: Haokip brace sinks East Bengal

Salgaocar now have eight points from 10 matches, while East Bengal remained on third place with 17 points from nine matches.

Salgaocar players celebrate.   -  I-League

Thongkhosiem Haokip struck twice to guide Salgaocar to a comfortable 3-1 win over East Bengal in the I-League, played at the Tilak Stadium here today.

Salgaocar, who led 2-1 at half time, scored through Thongkhosiem Haokip (4th, 90+2) and Cavin Mbarga (36th) to register their first win at home here.

East Bengal, who fought back strongly in the second half, reduced the margin through Ranti Martins (25th minute).

Salgaocar now have eight points from 10 matches, while East Bengal remained on third place with 17 points from nine matches.

Salgaocar, who went down 1-3 to Mohun Bagan, were desperate to win and started well with Darryl Duffy and Haokip working in tandem to put early pressure on the rival defense and they succeeded in finding an early goal in the fourth minute.

Duffy send a cross from the right which defender Arnab Mondal failed to intercept but Haokip shot home from close past keeper Luis Barreto.

East Bengal retaliated and almost equalised four minutes latter when Ranti Martins ran down the left flank off a pass from Sanju Pradhan and on entering the box took a shot at the goal which missed the target narrowly.

Salgaocar received an early blow when their reliable striker Duffy got injured and was replaced by Jackichand Singh and they had a close shave in the 16th minute when defender Eder made a goal line save off Jairu’s shot after keeper Karanjit Singh was beaten by Samad Al Mallick’s cross.

Salgaocar’s defence looked shaky under pressure and conceded a silly goal to give East Bengal the equaliser in the 25th minute. Defender Keenan Almeida who tried to head the ball to his keeper Karanjit Singh off Hossain’s cross instead headed the ball on the path of Martin, who rushed and tapped the ball into the back of the net.

Thereafter, it was an even contest as both the teams tried to take the lead and Salgaocar earned a penalty and once again took the lead in the 36th minute.

Jackichand Singh, who troubled the defense with his speedy run, outsmarted Mallick inside the box and the East Bengal’s defender pulled him down and referee had no hesitation in awarding the penalty spot which Cavin Mbarga converted to have Salgaocar leading 2-1 at half time.

East Bengal tried to come back in the second half but their repeated forays didn’t bear fruit as the home team defense withstood the onslaught.

East Bengal was reduced to ten man in the 78th minute when defender Sehnaj Singh got the marching orders from referee Umesh Bora for a rash tackle on Jackichand. This helped the home team as Haokip scored his brace in the injury time to seal the issue for Salgaocar.

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