New Delhi Heroes stun Goa's Sporting, East Bengal eye semi-final berth
Barasat, Dec 13 (IANS) Rank outsiders New Delhi Heroes stunned formidable Sporting Clube de Goa while former champions East Bengal moved closer to a semi-final berth, pipping JCT Mills in Federation Cup group C league matches here Saturday.
Both matches ended 1-1 at the Vidyasagar stadium.
Sporting paid for missed opportunities as the unfancied Delhi side found the target at the half hour mark through Romeo Sukhlani.
Under pressure for most of the game, Delhi Heroes converted one of the only two chances they got by Itaue Oliviera. Oliviera addressed a minus from right after a one-two with Stanley Okroigwe and Sukhlani put the ball home.
Itaue, after playing a stellar role in the first goal, failed in a one-to-one situation with rival custodian Felix D'Souza, by ballooning the ball over the crosspiece in the 84th minute.
Apart from that, the Goans held sway.
They had the majority of ball possession, but muffed up the easiest of opportunities in the game's initial minutes when Freddy Mascarenhas' volley went wayward.
Soon after, Nigerian Nathaniel Amos let go another scoring opportunity as he dillydallied.
The day's second fixture saw East Bengal putting up one of their best performances of the year, though they won by the barest of margins, thanks to Sunil Chhetri's strike in the 47th minute.
Soon after second half a spectacular combined effort saw Syed Rahim Nabi initiate proceedings before Jayanta Sen passed the ball for the redoubtable Ghanaian Yousif Yakubu. The foreigner gave a quick pass to Sunil, who showed fine control to switch possession from the left foot to the right and then let loose a firm diagonal shot that entered the corner of the net.
East Bengal coordinated well, and coach Stanley Rosario's decision to bring in Nabi in place of the veteran Suley Musah turned out to be a masterstroke, as the local boy looked a bundle of energy and played a key role in the attacking zone.
East Bengal could have got into the lead in the first half itself, but for JCT defence mainstay Julius Akpele, who effected a spectacular goal line save to thwart a Yakubu effort in the 30th minute.
JCT seemed on the defensive in the first session, but tried to come out of their shell after conceding the goal.
A couple of minutes after Sunil netted, Baljit Saini got an easy chance but shot out, much to the relief of the East Bengal fans in the stand.
Six minutes before the final whistle, JCT goalkeeper Karanjit Singh came out with a fine save off a Yakubu shot.
A little later, Yakubu tried to set up Sunil, but Karanjit came close to the striker and prevented him from doing any damage.
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