Rajasthan United and Neroca FC shared spoils in the other game.

Mohammedan Sporting Club returned to winning ways and also moved to the top of the I-League 2021-22 table after a comfortable 3-1 victory against Real Kashmir. A goal from Andelo Rudovic and a brace from SK Faiaz ensured Mohammedan finished the game with three crucial points. Real Kashmir were reduced to nine men as Pratesh Shirodkar and goalscorer Lalchawnkima were sent off in the second half.

Andelo Rudovic opened the scoring for Mohammedan in the twelfth minute. Marcus Joseph played a brilliant defence-splitting pass while Rudovic kept his run in check to stay onside, after which the Bosnian carefully placed the ball past the keeper.

A controversial moment arose in the second half when Real Kashmir players surrounded the referee asking for a penalty. The ball had come off the thigh of Wayne Vaz and hit his arm but the referee did not point to the spot leaving Real Kashmir players fuming over the decision.

The tempers came down moments later when Real Kashmir bagged a much-needed equaliser through Lalchhawnkima. The defender was the first one to pounce on and tap-in an amazing cross from Ragav Gupta.

The joy and relief for Real Kashmir was quite short-lived as Pratesh Shirodkar received a second yellow just moments after the equaliser.

Down to ten men, Real Kashmir were shaken and things went from bad to worse for them just six minutes later when SK Faiaz restored Mohammedan’s lead in the game. A sublime 1-2 between Joseph and Rudovic saw the latter unmarked with the ball on the left flank. The Bosnian whipped a low cross in across the face of goal and Faiaz tapped it in at the far post.

The game was put to bed in the 89th minute when Faiaz doubled his tally of the night by cutting in from the left and seeing his deflected shot fly into the goal. To add to the horrors of Real Kashmir, their goal scorer Lalchhawnkima was booked for a foul and received a second yellow for sarcastically applauding the booking.

Neroca FC, Rajasthan United share points

NEROCA FC and Rajasthan United settled for a point each as they met in the penultimate round of fixtures in Phase 1 of the I-League 2021-22. Khaiminthang gave NEROCA the early lead in the first half, but his effort was cancelled out by a finish from close range by Rajasthan United striker Sardor Jakhonov in the second half.

In the 2nd minute, a wayward clearance from the Rajasthan United backline landed at the feet of NEROCA winger Khaiminthang. He showed quick thinking and impressive control to bring the ball under his spell, create half a yard and get a low and hard shot away across goalkeeper Bhaskar Roy, who got a hand to the shot but failed to parry the strike away.

Shortly after the hour mark, Rajasthan United leveled the contest in the 65th minute against the run of play. Substitute Flan Gomes came up with some good work down the left flank as he showed the willingness to take on his opposing defender. Flan went for goal after creating a narrow opening, but his effort took a deflection on its way to goal.

In the true element of a fox-in-the-box, Sardor Jakhonov came alive to sense his opportunity as he provided the slightest of touches to flick the ball past Shubham Dhas. This was the Uzbek’s third goal of the Hero I-League season.

Defeat to Sreenidi Deccan drops Aizawl FC to the relegation stage

Two late goals by Sreenidi Deccan FC confirmed Aizawl FC’s absence from the upcoming Championship Playoffs. An 83rd-minute penalty from skipper David Castaneda and a stoppage-time strike from Vanlalbia Chhangte were enough to see Sreenidi Deccan sail past Aizawl.

After a barren first half, Sreenidi Deccan got off to a good start in the second half, launching attacks with Rosenberg down the left. The consecutive attacks were all blocked and parried by the Aizawl defence. Phalguni Singh’s brilliant strike ended up in the back of the net but the goal was disallowed as the offside flag went up against Ogana Louis who was obstructing the keeper.

However, the deadlock was finally broken seven minutes from time when Castaneda was taken down inside the box by Lalthakima. The Colombian stepped up and calmly slotted in his ninth goal of the season from the spot.

Heading into stoppage time, Sreenidi Deccan established a two-goal cushion courtesy of substitute Vanlalbiaa Chhangte. It was set up by Castaneda, who kept the ball in play brilliantly on the left flank and hit a low cross into substitute Vineeth Velmurugan. He adjusted his feet and passed it to Chhangte, who also had to adjust his stance before smashing the ball into the net.

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