I-League: East Bengal Held By Lajong


Shillong: Lajong gave East Bengal a scare before settling for a 2-2 draw on Monday, leaving the I-League title race tantalisingly poised with one last round to go.

Nigerian striker Dudu Omagbemi scored on either side of Shillong Lajong’s two goals to keep East Bengal afloat in the title race at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Dudu gave East Bengal the lead in the 20th minute before a second half fightback by the home team saw Aibanbha Kupar Dohling (49th) and Samuel Lalmuanpuia (69th, penalty) score twice to push the visitors on the brink.

In the 88th minute, Dudu, who scored four goals in the 7-1 drubbing of Chennai City FC in their last game, pulled one back for East Bengal to take them to 30 points, same as third-placed Mohun Bagan with one game in hand.

Second-placed Neroca FC (31 points) take on East Bengal in Kolkata on March 8. Minerva Punjab FC (32 points) are top of the table and play Churchill Brothers in their last outing on the same day.

On March 8, Mohun Bagan will take on Gokulam Kerala FC away. East Bengal got the first chance of the game when Brandon Vanlalremdika set up Dudu into the space between the defenders and the goalkeeper but the Nigerian veteran could not meet the aerial ball as goalkeeper Nidhin Lal punched it away.

A minute later, Ansumana Kromah shot over the bar after doing well to get inside the 18-yard box. The visitors got the lead minutes later. The impressive Lalram Chullova put in a beautiful through ball inside the area for Dudu, who timed his run to perfection, to sneak in a header. Lajong got a couple of chances after that but could not convert.

In the second half, Shillong Lajong came roaring back into the game with two goals. Dohling first turned in the brilliant Samuel’s free kick, beating Gurwinder Singh in the air to equalise. Then Samuel was brought down by Mehtab Singh inside the box and the former stepped up for the spot kick to make it 2-1.