Qualifier Indian Navy continued its good run in the 126th Durand Cup as it surprised defending champion Air India 2-0 in a Group II fixture at the Ambedkar Stadium.
Bhawanipur FC was supposed to play the Navy team on Wednesday but the match was rescheduled to Friday as the Bengal side had Calcutta Football League commitments. The change seemed to have an impact on Air India as it failed to produce a single clear-cut chance over 90 minutes.
The contest was largely dour and only five minutes of frenetic action enabled Indian Navy gain three points.
The first goal came in the 76th minute when right-winger Raman Rai found space on the flank to drive the ball across the six-yard box and the cross was finished by Riyad.
Doubling the lead
The lead was doubled two minutes later as Rai again broke forward on the right but this time hit a powerful shot to the far corner to score. Hurt by the double whammy, Air India failed to respond and the navy team held on comfortably for victory.
ONGC picks up three points
In Group IV, ONGC grabbed three points in its campaign opener with a facile 4-1 win over Army Red.
The army men could have sealed a semifinal spot with a victory but, despite taking an early lead, never really threatened enough.
A controversial decision saw ONGC fall behind to a 19th-minute penalty by T.V. Vipin, his second strike of the tournament from the spot.
The goal spurred the former I-League team into action and parity was achieved 20 minutes later when Asim Hassan hit a shot from outside the box.
Hassan completed a brace in the 58th minute as he guided home after good work by Lalchhuanawma on the left. Henry Ezeh scored ONGC’s third six minutes later and Parwinder Singh completed the rout 14 minutes from normal time.
The results: Indian Navy 2 (B. Riyad 76, Raman Rai 78) bt Air India 0; ONGC 4 (Asim Hassan 39, 58, Henry Ezeh 64, Parwinder Singh 76) bt Army Red 1 (T.V. Vipin pen-19).