Durand Cup: Jamshedpur FC, FC Bengaluru United win opening matches
Kolkata: Indian Super League (ISL) side Jamshedpur FC defeated I-League team Sudeva Delhi FC by a solitary goal while second-division club FC Bengaluru United too got off to a winning start in the Durand Cup, beating Central Reserve Police Force Football Club (CRPF FC) by an identical margin on Monday.
The ISL side successfully held on to its 1-0 lead, which was nicked by one of their academy graduates, Lalruatmawia, in the 34th minute at the Mohun Bagan Athletic Club Ground.
The first half was a cagey affair with neither side being able to get a strong foothold in the game. Jamshedpur fielded a team dominated by young academy players and reserves, but so did Sudeva. However, the team from the capital had a better share of chances.
Much against the run of play, it was Jamshedpur who took the lead in the 34th minute. A speculative through bal' wasn't dealt with by the Sudeva defence, which put Jams'edpur's Lalruatmawia through on goal and the youngster finished with aplomb for the opening goal, which eventually turned out to be the match-winner.
FC Bayern Munich U19 World Squad player Subho Paul squandered a golden opportunity for Sudeva in the 61st minute when the away side were awarded a penalty for a handball. Subho stepped up for the spot-kick but had his effort comfortably saved by Jamshedpur goalkeeper Vishal Yadav.
Yadav was awarded the Man of the Match (MOTM) for his clean-sheet and penalty-saving heroics.
Manzi scores for Bengaluru United
Earlier in the day, second division side FC Bengaluru United registered a maiden Durand Cup win on debut, when they outplayed CRPF 1-0 with the help of a Pedro Manzi second-half strike at the Kalyani Stadium.
The Richard Hood-coached side, staved off a gritty display by the CRPF, particularly in the first half, to come up trumps and thereby take second place behind Mohammedan Sporting in Group A of the 130th edition of the iconic football tournament.
CRPF began growing into the game in the first half, thanks in particular to a fine display by midfielder Dashpreet Singh, although Manzi had an early sight at goal. CRPF had as many as five corners in the half and came close to scoring a couple of times, but their forwards Amit Gayen and Ramesh Dolai could not capitalise.
The team from the South in Red and Black stripes finally went ahead in the 63rd minute when Manzi finally converted. He had earlier missed a couple of chances in the first half and had hit the crossbar from a free-kick just minutes before the goal.
Whatever hopes CRPF had of staging a comeback was dealt a blow in the 27th minute of the second half, when just before the hydration break, their keeper Moses Antony was sent off by referee Rahul Gupta for a handball just outside the box. He was immediately replaced by reserve keeper Shakti Das, but it was still an uphill task for the 10-man CRPF side.
The policemen still fought on gamely even as an effort by Rajinder, who also had a good game incidentally, from just outside the box, five minutes from close, missing the target and failing to trouble Bengaluru keeper Kunzang Bhutia. He also hit the crossbar in the dying minutes but still could not get the equaliser.
Pedro Manzi was deservedly declared the Man of the Match for the game.