Jeje, Lalrindika, Bodo and Thapa score in crucial wins
Round 6 and 7 of Hero I-League 2017 witnessed East Bengal maintain their lead at the summit of the table as arch-rivals Mohun Bagan looked to keep pace with the Red and Gold Brigade. East Bengal picked up six points from their two matches at the Barasat District Sports Stadium in Kolkata. Willis Plaza bagged a first-half brace for them in their 2-0 win over Mumbai FC on Wednesday, while Wedson Anselme, Willis Plaza and Lalrindika Ralte (Atlético de Kolkata), all netted once for the Kolkata giants in their 3-0 victory against Chennai City on Sunday.
Mohun Bagan edged past Aizawl FC 3-2 at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium in their only match of the week on Saturday. Former FC Goa forward Darryl Duffy gave the Mariners the lead before Jayesh Rane (Chennaiyin FC) equalised for the visitors four minutes from half-time. Jeje Lalapekhlua (Chennaiyin FC) re-established the hosts’ lead only for Ashutosh Mehta (Mumbai City FC) to restore parity again. However, Duffy converted a spot-kick six minutes from full-time to give his team maximum points.
A sole Brandon Vanlalremdika strike turned out to be the difference in Aizawl’s previous match on Wednesday, which saw them beat visitors DSK Shivajians 1-0 at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium. DSK Shivajians then went on to play out a 2-2 draw against Bengaluru FC at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Pune on Sunday. Holicharan Narzary (NorthEast United FC) scored twice to give them a 2-0 lead before goals from Mumbai City FC’s Sunil Chhetri and NorthEast United FC’s Salam Ranjan Singh saw it end all square.
Meanwhile, Minerva Punjab picked up their first win of the season this week. They drew 0-0 with Churchill Brothers earlier in the week before beating Mumbai FC 2-1 at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana on Saturday. Chennaiyin FC’s Baoringdao Bodo – who became the youngest ever scorer in the I-League – and Anrirudh Thapa netted for Minerva Punjab, whereas Karan Sahwney scored a consolation goal for Mumbai 13 minutes from full-time.
Shillong Lajong also enjoyed a great week with back-to-back victories at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong. They beat Chennai City 2-0 courtesy of a Asier Dipanda brace on Tuesday before registering a 1-0 win over Churchill Brothers on Sunday with Dipanda again proving to be the match-winner, thanks to a 51st-minute strike.
East Bengal are now top of the table with 19 points, three ahead of second-placed Mohun Bagan, who have a game in hand. Aizawl FC and Shillong Lajong are in third and fourth spot with 13 and 12 points respectively. The bottom of the table saw Minerva move off last spot and into ninth courtesy of a draw and win that helped them to five points from seven matches, which is a point more than Chennai City, who now prop up the table.