Katsumi Yusa scored from the penalty spot to cancel out Ezeh Henry's opener and late on Muritala Ali came on the wrap up proceedings at the Balewadi Stadium...
Air India slumped to a 2-1 loss against ONGC, in an I-League encounter at the Balewadi stadium in Pune on Sunday.
Ezeh Henry had opened the scoring in the 41st minute, before Katsumi Yusa equalized from the penalty spot, in the second minute of first half injury time. Muritala Ali scored the all important winner in the 86th minute.
Naushad Moosa, in his first game in-charge, continued with the tried and tested partnership of Ezeh Henry and E.O Junior upfront.
Santosh Kashyap meanwhile started Sandeep Sangha in central defense, while Parwinder Singh started in midfield.
Both of the teams started cautiously and effectively cancelled each other out in midfield. However Jatin Singh Bisht and Katsumi Yusa’s quality soon started to shine in midfield, as the Oilmen took a firm hold on the proceedings.
However they found it tough to get past Sukhwinder Singh in goal, with Sandeep Sangha, Kenistan C., both thwarted in quick succession.
At the other end, E.O Junior was a whisker away from connecting with a brilliant cross by Pradeep Mohanraj.
It was Santosh Kashyap’s side though, that looked more likely to score, with Parwinder Singh being the next to try his luck. However his powerfully hit shot was caught by Sukhwinder Singh at the second attempt.
Eric Brown was then unlucky, as his shot from inside the box hit the ONGC goalie and was deflected off target, with the custodian having little clue of what hit him!
And then the Oilmen were hit by the proverbial sucker-punch, as Ezeh Henry met Junior’s cross in the box, to give Air India the lead in the 41st minute.
However the lead lasted for just a matter of minutes, as in injury time of the first half, Katsumi Yusa was brought down in the box, with the referee signaling for a penalty. The Japanese got up and himself slotted home the penalty, to restore parity in the second minute of injury time.
That proved to be the last kick of the half, as the referee soon blew his whistle for half-time.
The second half started with the hosts trying to take control of the proceedings, and almost went ahead, when Rehnesh T.P misjudged the cross, and the ball went over him and fell in Junior’s path, whose effort was cleared off the line by Naresh Aula.
Henry then came up with a thumping header from an Akshay Mall cross, which was met by an equally impressive save by Rehnesh T.P.
There was a moment of contention just after an hour into the game, as it seemed like Mall bought down Katsumi Yusa in the box, but the referee waved the appeals away, much to Santosh Kashyap’s chagrin.
Bhushan Thube then got to the end of a Mohanraj cross for Air India, but he somehow contrived to send his looping effort wide, with the entire goal in-front of him.
The game suddenly became a very open one, with chances at both ends. Kenistan C. was the next player to try his luck, but his close-range effort was saved well by Sukhwinder.
However just as it looked that neither side would be able to break the dead-lock, up popped Muritala Ali, who scored on his second attempt in the 86th minute, after seeing his first shot being well saved by the Airmen keeper.
The win sees ONGC move to 6th on the table with 27 points from 20 games, while Air India stay stuck at 18 points, one behind Shillong Lajong and Pailan Arrows.