Emmanuel Chinedu cupped his ears and egged the audience for applause and, while the claps lingered, he scripted a touch of the African summer at the Bangalore Football Stadium.
The Nigerian’s brace helped NRB Vasco FC defeat Kalighat Milan Sangha, Kolkata 2-1 in a second division I-League match here on Saturday. The triumph helped Vasco (13 points) draw level with Mumbai Tigers and Southern Samity atop the table while Kalighat remained at nine points.
The match was played in two parts — a free-flowing first-half in which both teams parried hard without the requisite results; and a relatively languid second-half interspersed with the spitfire of goals that also stretched into injury-time.
The contest commenced with a quick jab and an immediate riposte as Chinedu shot a touch wide off the Kalighat citadel while the rivals mounted a quick sortie though Reisangpemmi Kasomwoshi failed to lend the needed finishing touch.
The template for the first-half was seemingly set with attacks and counter-attacks split by a brief segment of mid-field melees.
Among the few riveting passages of play was the left-footer that Kalighat’s Chiziba Christopher unleashed from the edge of the box and a few searing runs by Vasco’s Babatunde John that were marred by fumbling near the goal-mouth and the score remained blank at the break.
In the second-half, Vasco was quick off the blocks though the much-needed goal was eked in the 68th minute. Babatunde’s run down the left flank culminated in a low-slung cross and an agile Chinedu dived low and his header cannoned in past Kalighat custodian Souvik Mondal. Chinedu was back in business during the 77th minute as he latched onto a long ball from Mario Mascarenhas and hoodwinked Mondal.
Ahead by two goals, Vasco was guilty of opting for a meandering approach for the remainder of the game while Kalighat rung in three substitutions to the rival’s two.
Kalighat pulled one back in the second minute of injury-time as Krishanu Das, substituting for Tanmoy Kundu, fired a long-ranger across 30 yards. The shot found its mark to offer some solace to a wilting Kalighat in the dying seconds.
The result: NRB Vasco FC 2 (Chinedu 68 and 77) bt Kalighat Milan Sangha, Kolkata 1 (Krishanu Das 90+2).
Sunday’s matches: Southern Samity vs Lunagmual FC; South United vs Eagles.