Mason Robertson’s twin strikes powered Real Kashmir FC to a 3-1 triumph over Aizawl FC and to the top of the I-League table at the VYBK Stadium here on Tuesday.
A defensive error gave Aizawl the lead in the 26th minute through Lalremsanga, while Lukman Adefemi’s first half strike and a double by Robertson in the second powered the Snow Leopards to a thumping win.
With the win, Real Kashmir extended its unbeaten streak to nine games and could remain on top of the I-League table, if Churchill Brothers drop points against NEROCA on Wednesday.
In what was a cagey first half between the two sides, it took two moments of defensive errors from either team to let the other score. However, it was Aizawl who tried to breach the Real Kashmir citadel with its possession-heavy style of football from the opening minutes.
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Real Kashmir goalkeeper Mithun Samanta made his first save in the eighth minute to keep out Ramhlunchhunga’s shot.
The Snow Leopards, boasting one of the best defences in the league so far, relied on counter-attack and direct football. It almost paid dividends for the side in the 14th minute when midfielder Farhan Gani sent Dipanda Dicka on to the goal. But Dicka’s effort was cut short by a crunching tackle from Lalchungnunga.
A defensive error in the 26th minute saw the Real Kashmir concede.
A goal-kick by Aizawl’s custodian was misjudged by Robertson and the ball bounced over him as it caught Pawan Kumar in an awkward position. It ultimately led to Lalremsanga picking up the pieces and slotting it past a hapless Samanta.
Real Kashmir equalised eight minutes later as Robertson made amends. With the Aizawl defence switched off, Robertson’s long throw-in from the left flank found Adefemi, who unleashed a header from close range to restore parity.
The Snow Leopards were given a golden opportunity to surge into the lead when Adefemi’s header off a Robertson cross forced the opposition goalkeeper to make a save. The rebound found Dicka inside the box, but he skied his shot from close range.
Yan Law’s Aizawl was not so lucky in the 56th minute. Pratesh Shirdokar’s free-kick from a distance found Robertson in the box and his free header found the bottom-right corner to put Real Kashmir ahead.
In the 68th minute, Robertson’s long throw-in once again found Adefemi inside the box in almost a replay of the first goal. However, this time, the Aizawl goalkeeper heroically saved Adefemi’s header to deny him from close range.
Scotsman Robertson put the tie to bed when he curled in a free-kick from 30 yards out to make it 3-1.
Though Aizawl tried to make a comeback, the lead proved to be unassailable. The result sees Aizawl sit on 12 points from nine matches.
– Mohammedan Sporting, Gokulam Kerala register wins –
Substitute Suraj Rawat’s injury-time stunner helped Mohammedan Sporting beat a 10-man Chennai City FC 2-1 at the Kalyani Stadium.
Mohammedan Sporting’s comeback win saw it to climb to fifth place with 13 points. CCFC, which suffered its third defeat in a row, was ninth with nine points.
Chennai City took the lead when Ranjeet Pandre banked on a poor clearance in the 19 minute. The former I-League champion was reduced to 10 men when Tarif Akhand was sent off in the 49 minute for two yellow cards.
Sporting equalised through Sujit Sadhu’s header in the 55th minute. Rawat’s stunning right footer from about 30 yards beat Chennai City goalkeeper Kabir Toufik in the 91st minute.
Earlier, Gokulam Kerala FC downed Sudeva Delhi FC by a solitary goal at Kalyani Municipal Stadium to pick up its third consecutive win. The victory helped the side reach the second spot in the current standings, netting 16 points from nine matches. Ghanaian striker Philip Adjah found the target in the 68th minute to secure the full quota of points for Gokulam Kerala.
At Salt Lake Stadium: Aizawl FC 1 (Lalremsanga 26) lost to Real Kashmir FC 3 (Lukman Adefemi 34; Mason Robertson 56, 72).
At Kalyani Stadium: Mohammedan Sporting 2 (Sujit Sadhu 55, Suraj Rawat 91) bt Chennai City FC 1 (Ranjeet Pandre 19).
Sudeva Delhi FC 0 lost to Gokulam Kerala FC 1 (Philip Adjah 68).