Pradhan and Ganesh score in close victories
Round 8 of Hero I-League 2017 saw East Bengal keep their three point lead at the summit of the table intact after playing out a 0-0 draw with rivals Mohun Bagan in the first Kolkata derby of the season at the Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri on Sunday.
The draw between the Kolkata clubs allowed Aizawl FC to narrow the gap at the top of the table after beating Churchill Brothers 3-1 at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Aizawl on Friday. The Goan outfit took the lead in the first half through an Ansumana Kromah strike. Lalramchullova scored the equaliser for Aizawl just beyond the hour mark before a goal from Kamo Bayi and an own goal from Banpynkhrawnam Nongkhlaw completed the north-eastern side’s comeback.
Elsewhere, DSK Shivajians registered a 2-1 away win against Shillong Lajong at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Meghalaya on Saturday. Sanju Pradhan (FC Pune City) gave the visitors the lead in the 16th minute before Shillong’s top-scorer this year Asier Dipanda found a leveller for the the hosts. The Pune-based side scored the winner just before the break courtesy of a Shane McFaul effort.
Meanwhile, Chennai City moved off the bottom of the table and leapfrogged Mumbai FC in the standings with a 2-1 victory over the Maharashtra club at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Saturday. Anderson da Silva opened the scoring for Mumbai in the 28th minute before Dhanpal Ganesh (Chennaiyin FC) equalised for the southern outfit a minute later. Chennai netted the winner in the 69th minute through Charles de Souza to round off the comeback.
Defending champions Bengaluru FC were also in action on Saturday at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bangalore. The reigning champions faced Minerva Punjab and took the lead through Sunil Chhetri (Mumbai City FC) seven minutes into the second half and looked on course for maximum points. However, Sandesh Jhingan (Kerala Blasters FC) put the ball into his own net 12 minutes from full-time as it ended 1-1 with the sides having to settle for a point each.
After the eighth round of matches, East Bengal top the table with 20 points from eight games. They are followed by Mohun Bagan, who are on 17 points having played a game fewer. Aizawl FC and Shillong Lajong are third and fourth respectively with 16 and 12 points from their eight games so far. Churchill Brothers prop up the table with five points from eight matches and are a point behind Mumbai FC and Minerva, who occupy the ninth and eight spots in the league standings.