Udanta, Eugeneson and Jeje score in Federation Cup openers
The Hero Federation Cup 2017 got underway at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack on Sunday. The 8-team tournament amongst the top 8 I-League sides kicked-off with a Group A encounter between East Bengal and Churchill Brothers. It was a close contest that eventually ended 1-1 after Ansumana Kromah scored for Churchill in the 81st minute to cancel out Wedson Anselme’s 66th minute opener as both sides gained a point.
The second Group A game on Sunday saw Hero I-League champions Aizawl FC come from 2-0 down at half-time to register a 3-2 win over Chennai City. Chennai started the game brightly and held the advantage at the break courtesy of goals from Charles De Souza and Edwin Vanspaul in the 13th and 39th minute respectively.
The second-half, however, witnessed Aizawl mount a spirited comeback after Syrian midfielder Mahmoud Amnah found the back of the net eight minutes into the half. Laldanmawia scored the equaliser shortly after the hour mark and got his second of the night nine minutes from full-time to claim maximum points.
Monday’s fixtures pitted Bengaluru FC against Shillong Lajong, while defending champions Mohun Bagan faced DSK Shivajians in Group B’s opening matches. Bengaluru’s encounter with Shillong was another 3-2 thriller that ended in favour of The Blues. The southern-outfit took the lead in the 35th minute when a deflected shot from Udanta Singh (Mumbai City FC) beat the keeper.
They doubled their lead immediately after the restart after a delightful cross from the right by Harmanjot Singh Khabra (Chennaiyin FC) was nodded into the net by Eugeneson Lyngdoh (FC Pune City). Shillong pulled one back through Yuta Kinowaki in the 72nd minute but conceded again two minutes later as Aiborlang Khongjee (Mumbai City FC) put through his own net. Samuel Lalmuanpuia made it 3-2 by scoring for Shillong five minutes from time to set up a nervy-finish, which Bengaluru overcame to clinch all three points.
The other match in Group B turned out to be a lopsided affair as Mohun Bagan capped off a strong showing with an emphatic 4-0 win over DSK Shivajians. Former Chennaiyin FC striker Balwant Singh opened the scoring for the Mariners in the 24th minute by heading in a pin-point Sony Norde (Mumbai City) cross from the right.
Bagan doubled their advantage when Darryl Duffy, who played for FC Goa in Hero ISL 2015, headed home a Norde corner in the 65th minute. Balwant completed his brace six minutes later with a composed finish at the second time of asking after his first attempt had been blocked. The Kolkata club scored their fourth of the night in injury-time after substitute Jeje Lalpekhlua (Chennaiyin FC) found himself in on goal. Lalpekhlua made no mistake as he dummied a defender before finishing with conviction to make it 4-0.