Top 10 I-League matches of season 2011-12: A chronological list of memorable clashes's Anselm Noronha looks back at the season that has gone by, as he brings forth ten instances of entertainment...
Some may say that the I-League is a "boring affair" although it has to be accepted that this circuit of Indian football is quite capable of getting you off your seat in excitement. has hereby handpicked a selection of ten such matches that have kept you guessing as to which way the game would turn until the referee had blown the final whistle.

The criterion was to highlight games wherein a top team were stunned or were given a massive thrashing by minnows or by a fellow top team, or games that dramatically changed the dynamics of the title race. The level of competetitiveness was also kept in mind and hence the 8-1 away win of East Bengal over HAL was excluded. The high profile Kolkata derby between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan didn't make it into our list as it failed to live upto the hype this season with a 10 win for Bagan wherein Odafa scored a controversial penalty and 1-1 tame draw the second time around when the two sides met.

31 October 2011: Sporting Clube de Goa 4-3 Shillong Lajong FC

It was a fantastic win for Ekendra Singh's men in an entertaining affair littered with questionable defending and impressive goals.

P.C.Lalhlimthara made it 1-0 in the 11th minute while Sporting composed themselves to find an equaliser as Kalu Nnanna’s shot within 24 minutes of the game.

John Menyongar regained the lead for Pradhyum Reddy's side by converting a 38th minute penalty before Victorino Fernandes got his name on the scoresheet four minutes into the second half.

A minute later Victorino scored his second but Lalhlimthara (56') kept the match open with another strike. James Moga put the assembled crowd into ecstasy with his 70th minute winner eventually.

2 November 2011: Dempo Sports Club 5-0 Mohun Bagan

Ranti Martins scored the opener out of nowhere in the ninth minute and in the very next minute, the Nigerian set up Joaquim Abranches until Dempo struck their third goal in the 38th minute through Samir Naik.

Martins (45+1') bagged his brace and just as play resumed he relayed the ball to Abranches who fired in Dempo’s fifth goal in 46 minutes! This was the first defeat for Subrata Bhattacharya and his men in the I-League this season.

4 December 2011: Dempo SC 1-2 Churchill Brothers SC

Surrounded by controversy and action, it was an entertaining Sunday evening as suggestions to have the goal-line technology only got stronger.

Antun Kovacic's 21st minute "goal" was allowed to stand after referee Pratap Singh had a brief discussion with his assistant who probably himself wasn't sure if the ball crossed the line or not.

Henry Antchouet’s deflected shot took Churchill into the break with a 2-0 advantage that was only reduced by Selwyn Fernandes who scored Dempo’s consolation goal in stoppage time. This ended Dempo's fantastic run of results and handed them their first defeat in the I-League at a time when their star players were away on national duty for the SAFF Championship.

18 December 2011: Air India 2-0 Dempo Sports Club

Air India secured a stunning 2-0 victory over Dempo Sports Club to hand the favourites their third successive defeat in the tenth round of I-League season 2011-12.

In an unexpected move in the 71st minute, a quick throw-in saw Manandeep Singh (71') catch the entire Dempo defence off-guard and scored the opener.

The Airmen's custodian had his luck to thank besides working hard for his clean sheet while Collin Abranches' wonderful long-range goal in the 87th minute was enough to confirm the remarkable upset by the underdogs.

29 December 2011: Salgaocar Sports Club 4-0 East Bengal

Trevor Morgan's side apparently fought well but were overpowered by the now former champions who then managed to dismantle the Red and Gold.

Francis Fernandes scored the opener in the 23rd minute after the sending off of East Bengal captain Mehtab Hussain who picked two yellow cards in the 16th minute.

Ryuji Sueoka doubled the lead with a 67th minute goal before Elijah Junior added to the tally in the 85th minute, while Nirmal Chettri's own goal increased the margin to 4-0. It was learnt that Mehtab and Tolgay Ozbey had an altercation in the dressing room after the game which the latter denied in an exclusive interview.

1 February 2012: Sporting Clube de Goa 4-2 Pune FC

The 'Flaming Oranje' made a successful comeback from two goals down to pip Derrick Pereira's side in an entertaining encounter played in Goa.

Mandjou Keita (8', 21') scored twice to put the away side in the lead before Ogba Kalu Nnanna (30', 45+1') led the revival in the first half to level the scores.

James Moga gave Sporting the lead for the first time in the 82nd minute, while Dawson Fernandes ensured the victory for the home side.


11 February 2012: Shillong Lajong FC 2-1 East Bengal

The boys from Shillong upturned a one goal deficit to win the encounter against a team who were trying to keep pace with Dempo for the I-League crown.

Tolgay Ozbey had put East Bengal ahead in the 4th minute with a magnificent solo effort in which the Aussie striker managed to dribble past at least three defenders before beating the keeper.

John Menyongar (12') equalized, and in a quickfire double from Pradhyum Reddy's side just four minutes later, Eugeneson Lyngdoh got on the score-sheet to dent the Red and Gold's title challenge.

10 April 2012: HAL Bangalore 4-6 Pune Football Club

Although already relegated, HAL SC in their home match put up quite a show in the 10-goal thriller that eventually saw the visitors go home with three points.

Rohit Chand found the back of the net in the very first minute for the Bangalore side, only to see his side down 4-1 by the end of the first half.

Subhash Singh started Pune FC's comeback with a goal in the 9th minute followed by Mandjou Keita’s brace (34', 35'). Douhou Pierre put the icing on the cake for the Pune team in the dying minutes of the first half.

After the break. Subhash added another goal for the Red Lizards which gave them what seemed like an unassailable lead.

HAL came back strongly in the second half as Jagaba Hamza Amaba made it 5-2 in the 69th minute while an inspired Rohit Chand (72', 86') brought the home side within touching distance to get a point from the game.

Mahinder Singh (88') however killed all hopes of a miraculous come back as the substitute extended Pune FC’s lead to 6-4 with just a couple of minutes left to play. This was the final nail in the coffin for the Bangalore-based side in the top flight as the defeat ensured that they were on their way to I-League second division.

11 April 2012: Churchill Brothers SC 2-4 Dempo SC

Armando Colaco's side got the better of their Goan rivals who were down to 10-men given the sending off of Beto after the Brazilian scored twice.

Clifford Miranda broke the deadlock in the 37th minute before Beto scored the equaliser in the 43rd minute as the two teams ended on level terms at half time.

Beto then put Churchill Brothers in the lead for the first time in the match in the 46th minute which was soon cancelled by Ranti Martins (50') before Koko Sakibo gave Dempo the lead for the second time in the game in the 63rd minute.

Former Churchill player Rowilson Rodrigues doubled the lead in the 86th minute after former Dempo player Beto saw a second yellow card for handball.


16 April 2012: East Bengal 4-3 Chirag United Kerala

It was the last time in the recently concluded season that the team from Kolkata managed to keep their bleak title hopes alive by overcoming Chirag United Kerala in a seven-goal thriller.

Man of the match Tolgay Ozbey scored two goals in the 32nd and the 54th minute after Penn Orji broke the deadlock for East Bengal in the 25th minute.

The visiting side had David Sunday's hat-trick (37', 41' and 48') to show, but it wasn't enough as Robin Singh's 77th minute strike proved to be the winner for Trevor Morgan's unit.


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*Note that the above list is not based on any sort of 'rankings' and are merely in chronological order.

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