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Goal.com revisits all the action from week 21 of the I-League and picks a team from the week’s best performers...

This weekend of I-League saw some thrilling ties played out, with a number of debutants making their mark. With all the top four teams failing to notch up a win, the league became more open with 5 more gameweeks to go, withsome teams also having some games in hand. At the bottom end too, the competition became more exciting, as a number of teams added some points to their kitty.

East Bengal played out a 1-1 draw against Air India, a game that saw players failing to find their usual form, under inhuman playing conditions. However, two men among the twenty two were outstanding, giving the spectators something to take back home from 90 minutes of aimless football. Sukhwinder Singh, the custodian of the Airmen probably had his game of this season, as he made a number of brilliant saves and was adjudged the ‘Man of the match.” His outing was superb as he thwarted a number of crosses delivered from the flanks. He pulled off the ‘Save of the day’ in the second half, when he held on to a Lalrindika Ralte shot, which was taken from the edge of the 6-yard box. Though he conceded a goal, it will not be an exaggeration to say that the away side could manage a point because of Singh’s form between the bars.

Mehtab Hossain, on the other hand, was brilliant for the Red and Gold. While all his compatriots in the midfield failed to cope up with the scorching heat, the dynamic playmaker of East Bengal provided the team with much-needed stability in the middle of the pitch. He delivered precise passes to the wingers with aplomb and with Penn Orji clearly being out of form, he took the responsibility of feeding the strikers with occasional through balls.

In the exciting encounter between Pune FC and Shillong Lajong, that ended in a 2-2 stalemate, two debutants stole the show. Edinho Junior, who has recently joined Shillong Lajong on a much talked- about loan move from Blackburn Rovers, showed glimpses of his class as he netted both of his team’s goals against Pune FC. However, probably more impressive was the performance of Boima Karpeh, the former Churchill Brothers footballer. After being introduced into the game in the second half, he scored both the goals for his side and wreaking havoc in the Shillong Lajong defense.

In an exciting match between Mohun Bagan and Pailan Arrows, that saw the Mariners notching up a very important 3-2 win, there were a few stellar performances as well. With Odafa Okolie out with illness, the responsibility of scoring goals rested on the shoulders of Tolgay Ozbey. The Australian striker has not been very impressive this season, but he rose to the occasion when it was needed the most.  He notched up two strikes in the span of three minutes, to put Mohun Bagan 3-0 up inside 21 minutes. Aibor Khongjee was also rock-solid at the back for the Green and Maroon. The defender also had his share of glory when he scored the first goal for Mohun Bagan in the 5th minute. He also assisted one of Tolgay’s goals. The former Shillong Lajong man had to be replaced in the break, as he was unable to carry on because of cough and fever.

The Bagan defense looked vulnerable in Aibor’s absence and in the second half, the Pailan players took advantage of the loopholes, leading to a tensed finish. The star of the young lot was certainly Shaiju Mon, who scored the first goal and disturbed the Bagan midfield with his runs in-between the channels. The midfielder lacked support down the flanks, but was able to create a few moves all by himself.

Steven Dias, the experienced Indian midfielder was back to form after a few game-weeks. He scored the goal for Churchill Brothers and also played in a few good crosses for the likes of Henri Antchouet and Sunil Chhetri. In a 4-3-3 formation, he also dropped back at times, snatching balls from the ONGC players.

Sporting Clube de Goa pulled off an upset, as they sealed a 1-0 victory against defending champions Dempo. Angel Berlanga was effective at the back, defending well versus the star-studded attacking line of the defending champions. Luciano Sobrosa was outstanding for Salgaocar in their 1-0 win against Mumbai FC. Robin Gurung also pulled off an appreciable performance at the back as ONGC held the chart toppers Churchill Brothers in a 1-1 draw.



TEAM OF ROUND 21


Sukhwinder Singh
Air India


 

Aibor Khongjee
Mohun Bagan




Angel Berlanga
Sporting Clube de Goa




Luciano Sobrosa
Salgaocar FC




Robin Gurung
ONGC FC



Steven Dias
Churchill Brothers

 



Mehtab Hussain
East Bengal


 

Shaiju Mon
Pailan Arrows



Tolgay Ozbey
Mohun Bagan

Boima Karpeh
Pune FC

 

Edinho Junior
Shillong Lajong



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