A chance second-half strike from Jerry Zirsingha proved enough for Emta Mohammedan Sporting to see off Rangdajied United at the Football Stadium in Bangalore on Monday. The goal was one of the few lively moments in a largely dull game, characterised by limited opportunities at either end.
The result kept Sporting on top of the second division I-League final round (first leg) table, two points above Bhawanipore FC which inflicted a shock 3-2 defeat on Mumbai Tigers.
Rangdajied had turned in an invigorating performance two days ago to beat Tigers, but none of that zest was on display here. The Shillong team looked flat, and with the opponent showing no great inclination of its own, the first half settled down to an unimpressive pace.
Younes Baltham had one great chance to put Sporting ahead but the Moroccan failed to beat the goalkeeper when through on goal. Neither side seemed to be stretching itself as the second half began, but the contest received a mild injection of life with Zirsingha’s goal. Five minutes after the interval, the winger floated in a speculative ball — a cross or a shot depending on the point of view — way out from the right touchline. The goalkeeper Surjay Pariyar stood leaden-footed as the ball sailed over his head and inside the far post.
Sporting shut shop at once, holding off threats without any discomfort. Rangdajied drove forward a couple of times in the final 10 minutes without reward; at the other end, L. Zuala and Wi Hyojun wasted gilt-edged chances on the counter-attack. The Kolkata side, though, had done enough.
Earlier, a hat-trick by J. Marco Barreto of Bhawanipore FC, including a penalty six minutes from time, condemned Mumbai Tigers to a second straight defeat.
The results: Bhawanipore FC 3 (J. Marco Barreto 26, 64, 84) bt Mumbai Tigers 2 (Demba Diakhate 7, N.P. Pradeep 62); Emta Mohammedan Sporting 1 (Jerry Zirsingha 50) bt Rangdajied United 0.