In what was a thrilling encounter between two evenly matched sides, the Airmen managed to come out on top...
ONGC went down fighting to Air India at the Ambedkar Stadium in Delhi 2-4 in a round 4 I-League match. Youngster Pradeep Mohanraj scored a brace for the Airmen (3', 14') while Prakash Thorat (43') and Ong Teshering Lepcha (87') scored the other two. Meanwhile for the home time, Keniston C (71') and Sachin Gawas (72') got two goals back but in vain.
In what was a kickoff delayed by 45 minutes, it did not take too long for the away side to get off the mark, as Pradeep, the 21 year old youngster from Ooty, who had joined from Chirag Kerala, took a brilliant free-kick from around 30 yards out, which caught Bilifang Narzary in goal stranded.
It turned from bad to worse for the home side, as in the 14th minute, Pradeep went on a mazy run from well inside his half, beating two ONGC defenders, and let loose a sweet shot from outside the box which gave Narzary no chance. The Airmen had a two goal cushion in no time.
Down by two goals, the home side showed all the resolve to get back in the game as they dominated proceedings. In fact they should have been awarded a penalty after Air India's Gagandeep Singh had handled the ball in the penalty box. Katsumi Yusa, who had been in fine form for ONGC so far, began to pull the strings but they failed to fashion any clear goal scoring chance.
Amidst all this pressure, it was Air India who scored on the break to almost nullify any chances of a comeback from the home team. The impressive Prakash Thorat was at the end of a cross from Souvik Chakrabarty and made no mistake, beating Narzary easily to make it 3-0 for Air India.
The away side could have added another as Henry Ezeh almost scored the fourth in first half injury time, but struck the side netting.
In fact they almost did so, as in the 85th minute, Keniston was again clean through on goal with only Jagroop to beat, but Singh's anticipation saved the day for the away side as he was first to the ball.
However, all hopes of a fairytale comeback was put to bed, when Lepcha got at the end of a Vijith Shetty corner in the dying minutes of the second half to make it 4-2 for Air India.
With the win, Air India have bounced back after the disappointing 1-0 loss at home to the Mariners, while ONGC have slumped to their third defeat in four matches.
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