Odafa shines with hat-trick vs Sporting Clube, Bhaichung red carded
Nigerian goal machine Okolie Odafa returned to form with hat-trick to power Mohun Bagan 3-1 win over Sporting Clube de Goa 3-1 at home in fourth round I-League clash at Yuba Bhrati Kriragan here today.
In Gangtok, former India captain and owner of Sikkim United Bhaichung Bhutia was red carded in 0-0 play against Pailan Arrows of Kolkata.
In Shillong northeast giants Shillong Lajong defeated big spending Prayag United 3-2 despite Ranty martins scored twice for Kolkata outfit.
Bagan's Odafa virtually led the restoration act single-handedly against the Goa visitor scoring the tournament's third hat-trick. Odafa scored in the 16th, 42nd and 56th minute to give Bagan second successive win in I-League.
A last-minute goal from Joseph Pereira saw Sporting Clube redeem some pride from the match, which had city giant dominating for the greater part of the action.
Needing a win to steady their boat - which is the key image in their emblem - Mohun Bagan made good use of the opportunity as a fired-up Odafa went for the goal hunt right after the start.
Missing the services of their Australian forward Tolgay Ozbey, Mohun Bagan employed their Nigerian goal-machine as the lone attacker, while widening their midfield.
Despite their dominance in the match, Mohun Bagan's performance did not show much creativity but the team did well in sticking to the single-point agenda of feeding Odafa with regular passes.
Set in a 4-5-1 format by Mariners' stand-in coach Mridul Banerjee, the team restricted the porosity in their defence while opening up more possibilities in their offensive.
Gaining their second successive win Mohun Bagan now have six points from four rounds while Sporting Clube de Goa remained on four points.
In Shillong Lajong back to winning ways and now they have seven points from four matches.
Prayag United, who were second-placed earlier, have dropped two places in the points tally.
For Lajong Gbeneme Friday scored in the 20th, 43rd and Boithang Haokip in the 68th.
Though Prayag led the way with Ranti Martins's 4th minute goal and his second in the 28th, the hosts took the home advantage to earn full three points.
In Gangtok United Sikkim FC managed to hold a spirited Pailan Arrows to a goalless draw, at the Paljor Stadium.
The highlight of the match would definitely be a forgettable I-League return for Bhaichung Bhutia.
The principal owner of the local team Bhutia came in as a substitute in the 78th minute and could only spend 6 minutes in the field.
He received two yellow cards and was sent off.
With this draw, United Sikkim managed to arrest their losing streak having lost both its two previous encounters while Pailan Arrows continues its unbeaten run in four matches.
After the match, Bhaichung apologised to his fans and teammates. "I am very sorry to my fans and team. It was the most stupid thing I have done in my career and it will not happen again. I am very disappointed with myself and I completely regret it", he said.
In New Delhi Air India beat ONGC 4-2 with goals from M.
Pradeep - 3rd and 15th and Prakash Thorat 43rd and ONG Lepcha - 87th. Kenistan and Sachin Gawas netted for ONGC Air India registered their first points in the I-League this season.
In Pune Churchill Brothers beat 10-man Pune FC by Beto's goal from penalty in the second half.
Pune's defender Caitano Costa was red-carded in the 45th minute when he held rushing Akram to save a goal.
In the second half CB's captain Beto scored in the added time of the second half.