Year-end special: Top 10 I-League matches of 2013

As we get ready to bid goodbye to 2013, Goal lists down 10 nail-biting contests of the I-League played in this calendar year.
The year of 2013 saw numerous enthralling encounters being played in the I-League. Goal lists down top ten contests from the lot.

Pailan Arrows 2-3 Mohun Bagan

One of the best performances by the All India Football Federation's (AIFF) developmental side and a cracker of a match with Pailan Arrows nearly coming back from a three-goal deficit.

Aibor Khongjee (5') struck first for the Mariners before Tolgay Ozbey's quick-fire brace (19', 20') gave the Mariners a comfortable 3-0 lead with only 20 minutes played. Shaiju Mon (41') pulled one back for the Arrows before half time, while Seimenlen Doungel's goal (49') soon after the break restored hope for the hosts.

However, they were denied a late equalizer by Arindam Bhattacharya, the Mohun Bagan custodian, as he blocked an effort from Narayan Das.

Pune FC 2-2 Shillong Lajong

Pune FC and Shillong Lajong played out an exciting 2-2 draw in Pune as the game saw a couple of goals from debutants Boima Karpeh and Edinho Junior.

Edinho, who joined Shillong Lajong FC on-loan from Blackburn Rovers, twice gave his side the lead in the 13th and 56th minutes. However, Pune FC's Boima Karpeh replied with a brace of his own, scoring goals in the 51st and 59th minutes.

The final three goals of the match, which were scored in the span of eight minutes. Meanwhile, Thangboi Singo's side could have been deemed a bit unlucky for a couple of decisions - including a penalty - that was controversially turned down by referee A. Rowan.

Mohun Bagan 3-2 Mumbai FC

In one of the most enthralling encounters this year, Mumbai FC's John Coutinho equalised in the 88th minute only for an Odafa Okolie penalty in the 96th minute to snatch all three points for Mohun Bagan. The points were vital to drive Karim Bencherifa's side closer towards safety after their 12-point penalty.

The Maroon and Green's Australian striker Tolgay Ozbey had opened the scoring in the 35th minute. At the other end, Darren Caldeira was the first to score for Khalid Jamil's side, who were already down by two goals as Odafa (52') had gotten his name on the scoresheet.

Dempo SC 2-2 East Bengal

This result effectively ended the Red and Gold's pursuit of winning the I-League as nothing less than a win would done for Trevor Morgan's side.

Penn Orji had put East Bengal into the lead in the 17th minute before Joy Ferrao (48') and John Menyongar (74') put Dempo SC ahead in the second half. Though Ishfaq Ahmed popped up with an equaliser in the 83rd minute, it was not enough for the Red and Gold to win full points from the tie.

Mumbai FC 2-2 Bengaluru FC

Ten-men Mumbai FC came back twice to equalize as they held Bengaluru FC to a 2-2 draw in one of the most exciting encounters of the league in this edition.

Sean Rooney opened the scoring in the seventh minute which was cancelled out by Hashmatullah Barakzai two minutes later. Ashutosh Mehta was sent-off for a foul on Siam Hangal in the 36th minute and Sunil Chhetri’s penalty in the second half looked to have sealed the win for the away side. However Climax Lawrence had other ideas as he scored from what was virtually the last kick of the game to deny the visitors full points.

United SC 3-2 Churchill Brothers

The Purple Brigade staged one of the best comebacks this season when they turned over a two-goal deficit and scored three goals in the second half to force the defending champions return home empty-handed.

The Goan outfit scored two goals through Balwant Singh (25' and 47') which put them in a commanding position. However CK Vineeth (55') pulled one back before Ranti Martins responded to Eelco Schattorie's call for him to start scoring in some style with a couple of goals (78' and 88') to seal the win. Churchill were reduced to ten-men when Denzil Franco was given his marching orders for a stamp on Vineeth in the closing stages.

Churchill Brothers 3-2 Sporting Clube de Goa

After a dismal start to the season, Churchill Brothers finally got the taste of victory when they edged past local rivals Sporting Clube de Goa in a high-voltage Goan derby played on 28th November.

Abdelhamid Shabana broke the deadlock in the very first minute while Boima Karpeh scored the equaliser in the fifth minute before Balwant Singh put Churchill Brothers back in the lead in the 37th minute. Pratesh Shirodkar brought Sporting on level terms for the second time in the 89th minute but not before Jaison Vales (90+5') scored the injury time winner to help his side register their first win in the 2013-14 season.

Mohammedan Sporting 2-3 Bengaluru FC

Mohammedan Sporting succumbed to a home defeat to Bengaluru FC in an encounter that saw a number of controversial decisions from the referee which infuriated the home team's fans.  

John Menyongar opened the scoring for the visitors in the 21st minute before Josimar equalized in first half injury time. Sunil Chhetri scored three minutes after the re-start before Josimar pulled his side level again in the 57th minute. Chhetri then popped up with the winner in the 71st minute to earn three points for his team.

After a number of blatant penalty appeals by the home team were turned down, there were ugly scenes in the stands as the Black and White fans began uprooting the plastic seats and flung them on the field.

Rangdajied United 3-2 Pune FC

Rangdajied United and Pune FC played out a five goal thriller at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong with two injury time goals giving the home team three crucial points.

Pune had opened the scoring through Mustapha Riga (23') and Gurjinder Kumar (34') in the first half while Edmar Figueira pulled one back for Rangdajied United in the sixtieth minute. However there was a twist in the tale as Kim Yong (90+3') scored equalised which was followed by substitute T. Lalnunpuia (90+4') winning it for the hosts. Pune FC were left red faced as to what had struck them.

Mohun Bagan 3-1 Pune FC

In what was a heated battle at the Barasat Stadium, Mohun Bagan produced a fantastic display and thereby garnered much needed three points against Pune FC with the scoreline reading 3-1. It was a 'do-or-die' clash for coach Karim Bencherifa whose job was on the line if he couldn't help his side get three points against the Red Lizards.

Odafa Okolie scored the opening goal in the 30th minute and Ram Malik doubled the advantage in the 75th minute. Four minutes later, Thongkhosiem Haokip scored for the visitors before Odafa settled the game with a strike in the 88th minute.

Though the score-line look far too flattering for the Mariners, it was an even contest and a couple of major defensive goof-ups cost the Red Lizards the match. The tempo of the game was high throughout and the war of words between Bencherifa and Mike Snoei added more spice to the affair.