Thoi, Udanta and Sena Ralte on target in opening week of I-League
Hero I-League 2017 got underway this past weekend as reigning champions Bengaluru FC looked to defend their crown in a bid for their third league title in four years. This weekend’s action witnessed 10 teams lock horns in five matches with Kolkata giants East Bengal kick-starting the season at home against Aizawl FC on Saturday. Both teams had to settle for a point after the match ended 1-1 at full-time.
Gurwinder Singh, part of the Kerala Blasters FC fold during all three seasons of the Hero ISL, scored an own goal towards the end of the first half to give Aizawl a 1-0 lead before a late header by substitute Ivan Bukenya saved the Red and Gold brigade’s blushes and earned them a point.
The defending champions Bengaluru had no such issues during their opening fixture of the season as they made light work of Shillong Lajong at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Saturday. Mumbai City FC duo Udanta Singh and Sena Ralte took centre stage for the two-time champions as Udanta bagged a brace, while Ralte netted 10 minutes from full-time to make it 3-0.
Sunday’s matches saw I-League debutants Chennai City FC and Minerva Punjab collect a point after playing out a 0-0 stalemate at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai. Mohun Bagan started their campaign with a 1-0 victory over Churchill Brothers at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium in Kolkata. The solitary goal of the match was netted by Hero ISL’s first ever domestic scorer and former Chennaiyin FC striker Balwant Singh in the 28th minute.
Meanwhile, Mumbai FC claimed bragging rights after a 1-0 win over rivals DSK Shivajians in the Maharashtra derby at the Cooperage Ground in Mumbai. The only goal of the game came in the 21st minute courtesy of a strike from Chennaiyin FC’s Thoi Singh, who was making his debut for Mumbai.