Durand Cup champion Air India registered its first points in the I-League with a 4-2 victory over Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) at the Ambedkar Stadium here on Sunday.
Air India started briskly with M. Pradeep scoring two goals within the first 15 minutes to dent the morale of ONGC. Despite training regularly in the city for more than a week, ONGC failed to rise to the occasion.
Air India shot into the lead in the third minute when Pradeep’s free kick found the target unchallenged with ONGC goalkeeper Bilifang Narzary failing to react. Pradeep made a solo run and unleashed a sharp left-footer from the top of the box to double the lead.
Air India consolidated its position two minutes before halftime with Prakash Thorat flicking smartly to deflect the ball home.
On resumption, Ong Lepcha found the cross-bar with a half-volley midway through the second half as Air India retained a stranglehold over the proceedings. It was at this stage that ONGC struck two goals in the space of two minutes to trigger panic in the Air India camp. C. Kenistan’s sharp volley off a floater from Kailash Patil fetched the first goal for ONGC. Sachin Gawas shot home the second goal, following an abortive attempt by skipper Jatin Bisht.
ONGC tried hard to find the equaliser but it was Ong Lepcha made the game safe for Air India. He stabbed it in after Souvik Charaborty had done the ground work from the right.
While Air India took its tally to three points from its fourth match, ONGC had only a solitary point from as many outings.
Keywords: I-League football