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East Bengal beats Churchill, regains top slot

Dudu scores Sporting Clube de Goa's winner against Mohun Bagan

Kolkata: Alvito de Cunha struck a first half brace as title holder East Bengal regained the top slot with a 2-0 victory over Churchill Brothers in a ninth National Football League match here on Friday.

At Margao, a 76th minute goal by man of the match Dudu Omagbemi guided Sporting Clube de Goa to victory over Mohun Bagan while at Ludhiana the match between JCT Mills of Phagwara and Fransa Pax of Goa ended in a goal-less draw.

Dominating the entire opening session, East Bengal went into lead in the 18th minute before striking an insurance goal a minute before the breather. It now is a point ahead of Dempo Sports Club, Goa, at 36 after 17 rounds. Churchill Brothers, which is struggling to save relegation, remained on 17 from the same number of outings.

Alvito untiring

Alvito, who worked untiringly to keep the East Bengal upfront moving, fired the first salvo in the floodlit match with a right-footed side volley after Bhaichung Bhutia headed down inside the box a Sasthi Duley floater.

East Bengal, which conducted a series of raids from the outset, made the scoreline 2-0 when Alvito capped a fine solo with a diagonal shot that rocketed into the net, with the Churchill goalkeeper Alemao out of position.

At Margao Dudu's goal came after Adebayo Adewusi ran down the right flank. On entering the box he relayed the ball to Dudu, who got the better of defender Edward Chacon and sent the ball to the far corner of the net to remain as the highest goal scorer with 14 goals.

Playing a defensive game, Bagan came up with counter moves and had its best chance in the closing stages of the first half but Mehatab Hussain's shot from 25 metres hit the cross bar.

With Friday's win Sporting brightened its chances to claim the title as it took its tally to 35 from 17 matches. Bagan, meanwhile, remained on eighth place with 17 points from 17 matches.

Sporting could have won by a much bigger margin had it utilised the chances especially in the first half. Sporting began on full steam and came up with a good move in the 21st minute of the first half when Rajesh Meetei laid a pass to Joseph Pereira who in quick succession passed the ball to the Dudu whose shot ballooned over the bar.

Good move

The home team came up with another good move five minutes later when Vincent Pires sent a cross pass to Bibian Fernandes who chested the ball and controlled it well but Mohan Bagan defender Edwardo Chacum made a timely clearance.

In the 30th minute of the first session, Dudu unleashed a pile driver which Bagan goalkeeper Subroto Paul failed to collect well but soon grabbed it. Four minutes before the breather, Sporting's Wilton Gomes passed to Fernandes, who switched to Dudu only to see him miss a sitter, his header sailing over the bar.

After a barren first half, Sporting continued to attack and had a chance in the 51st minute when Fernandes passed to Pereira but his shot went wide. In the counter attack, the visitor's Tomba Singh passed to Jerry Zir Sanga, who from close range unleashed a full-blooded shot which was smartly saved by Sporting goalkeeper Luis Barreto. — PTI, UNI

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