A first half goal from Air India's Baldeep Singh gave the Airmen all three points as Sporting Clube de Goa were desperately unlucky to not get a point...Air India got all three points in Goa, beating Sporting Clube de Goa 1-0 with Baldeep Singh scoring the solitary goal in the 36th minute, after Rahul Bheke had set him up.
Dawson Fernandes who had a torrid time last time around against Pune FC was benched and Mackroy Peixoto joined Anorue Obiora Richard in attack. Adil Khan's shoulder injury meant Boboi Singh was preferred in midfield while Japanese recruit, Seiya Sugishita too could not find a place in the starting lineup.
Air India started with their Nigerian pair of Junior Obagbemiro and Nna Ezeh Henry to lead their line while Souvik Chakraborty and Micky Fernandes were called on to marshal the midfield.
The home side had the lion's share of possession throughout the first half but were unable to capitalize on them as they missed a plethora of chances.
It was the away team's custodian who had to make the first save of the match, as Pratesh Shirodkar had a chance in the 26th minute to give Ekendra Singh's men the lead as he went one-on-one with Sukhwinder Singh on goal. Singh did ever so well to fluff out the chance while only a minute later, it was Obiora who shot wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Just after the half hour mark, Freiman Peixoto's cross from the right shaved off the post but there were no players in the box who could get at the end of the rebound. Ogba Kalu was the culprit next as he failed to score, even with an open goal staring at him in the 34th minute.
It was the Airmen who hit back two minutes later, with a classic sucker punch. Rahul Bheke swung in a corner from which an unmarked Baldeep Singh scored and gave his team the lead against the run of play.
The bad day in office for the Flaming Oranje continued as Obiora missed two more chances in the half.
He failed to connect properly with a Shirodkar cross in the first half, shooting wide while an audacious overhead kick from Peixoto's pass too flew high over the goal.
It was similar after the break, as the Airmen sat back to protect their slim lead, while Sporting probed for an opening.
There were shouts for a penalty when Sporting midfielder Pratesh Shirodkar's shot struck Micky Fernandes' hand, but referee Abhinandan Chatterjee denied the claim as he reckoned the hand was not away from the body.
In the 69th minute, Junior found his way in the Sporting box with a clever little flick but Ashok Singh was alert to the task at hand, as he came out of his line and smothered the ball before Junior could shoot.
It was almost an inspired substitution by Ekendra Singh as Seiya Sugishita, who came in place of Obiora in the 68th minute, hit the post just two minutes after coming on.
Both teams had their chances late on as Freiman's cross was headed across the face of the goal by Kalu in the 78th minute but failed to find an Orange shirt allowing the Air India custodian to collect. At the other end, Micky Fernandes' free-kick was tipped over the post by Ashok Singh in the 85th minute.
It was Baldeep Singh's solitary goal that made the difference as Air India defended resolutely to maintain a clean sheet.
With the victory, the Airmen, having played a game less, are currently tied with Sporting Clube de Goa on points, both having seven a piece.
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