The winger bagged a memorable hat-trick in a vital win for the away side as the Pilots failed to impress again...Prayag United breezed past Air India by a scoreline of 4-1, in an I-League encounter at the Balewadi stadium in Pune on Saturday.
Ranti Martins opened the scoring in the 30th minute, before C.K Vineeth completed his hat-trick in the span of 11 minutes, with strikes in the 37th, 38th and 47th minute. E.O Junior missed a penalty for the hosts, before scoring a consolation from another one in the 72nd minute.
Air India started with Ezeh Henry and E.O. Junior in attack, with Ong Lepcha starting in midfield, while M. Pradeep and Vijith Shetty had to be content with a place on the bench.
Prayag United meanwhile were without the services of Carlos Hernandez and Kayne Vincent. Schattorie hence, gave Lalmohan Hansdah a start upfront, alongside Ranti Martins. Gouramangi Moirangthem was also missing from the squad, with Anupam Sarkar taking his place in the starting eleven.
As expected, the away side started the stronger of the two teams, dominating possession. The Airmen were happy to hit on the counter, and on one such foray forward, Junior attempted a drive from range, which Sangram Mukherjee grabbed gleefully.
Eelco Schattorie’s side though, kept pushing their hosts deeper in defense, and were unlucky not to take the lead, when Dhanachandra Singh’s header came crashing back off the post.
K. Asif and Lalkamal Bhowmick continued to dominate in midfield, but found that their constant prodding was not enough to get past a resolute home side’s defense.
However a moment of magic changed all that, as Asif found Vineeth, who in-turn played a brilliant slide-rule pass to Ranti Martins, who made no mistake from close range, in the 30th minute.
That goal opened the floodgates, as 7 minutes later, a mix-up in the Airmen’s defense allowed Asif to find Vineeth, one of the four Prayag players left completely free in the box by Air India’s defense, and the former Chirag United player made no mistake in lifting the ball over Jagroop Singh in goal.
And the game had barely re-started, when Bhowmick found Deepak Mandal on the right wing, and his deep cross into the box was volleyed home powerfully by Vineeth, to make it 3-0 in his side’s favour.
Air India tried to hit back in whatever part of the half was remaining, but failed to test Sangram Mukherjee in goal.
Eventually the referee blew for half-time, with Schattorie’s side going back into the dressing room, far the more content of the two sides.
It took Vineeth barely two minutes into the second half to complete his hat-trick. A cross was only half cleared by the hosts, and Bello Rasaq’s ensuing wayward shot fell kindly into C.K Vineeth’s path, who made no mistake from close range.
The Airmen were given a chance to salvage some of their reputation, when Anupam Sarkar was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box. Junior though saw his tamely taken penalty saved by Sangram Mukherjee, and with that any hopes of saving the game went up in the air.
Junior was though, given a second chance in the 72nd minute, when Rasaq was adjudged to have bought down Prakash Thorat. This time the Nigerian made no mistake, dispatching his penalty with confidence, to mae the scoreline 4-1.
Ezeh Henry then had a glorious chance to add some spice in the remaining minutes of the game, as he was put clean through on goal. The striker then skipped past Mukherjee in goal, and casually rolled the ball towards an empty net, only for Bello Rasaq to track back and clear the ball off the line, heroically.
Prayag on the other side too had a flurry of chances, but the likes of Shankar Oraon, Lalmohan and Ranti Martins were wasteful in-front of goal.
The away side though, held on comfortably for the rest of the game and registered three vital points, which takes them level with Pune FC on 30 points, though the Red Lizards have played 3 games lesser.
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