Kolkata/Pune, Feb 1
Nigerian striker Ranti Martins sparkled on the pitch for Kolkata giants East Bengal as he provided both the first goal and the winning header to sneak past Shillong Lajong 2-1 in an I-League encounter Sunday, while in Pune, home side Pune FC went on top of the leader board as they clinched the state derby encounter against Mumbai FC courtesy a 3-2 scoreline.
At the Salt Lake stadium in Kolkata, Trinidadian forward Cornell Glen pulled one back for the visitors, Shillong Lajong.
It was Lajong who came close to scoring the first goal, as a free-kick from Boithang Haokip flew inches wide off target in the opening minutes of the game.
Home side East Bengal took a long time to settle down but finally in the 29th minute, Martins struck his first as a cross from New Zealand midfielder Leo Bertos found the Nigerian in the box, and his looping header over the top of the goalkeeper found the back of the net.
East Bengal was firmly in control and deserved their 1-0 lead going into the break.
After the breather, both sides tried to create goal scoring opportunities. Lajong finally broke through as Brazilian Uilliams Souza cross found its way to Glen on the edge of the area, who chested it and unleashed a sublime bicycle-kick which rattled the net.
Glen came close to adding another with a snapshot from about 30 yards out in the 63rd minute but his effort sailed over the bar.
The 'red and gold' brigade once again surged into the lead 70 minutes into the game as a long throw from Raju Gaikwad was headed home by an unmarked Martins at the far post to make it 2-1.
Lajong could not build up a comeback as the home side dominated the possession and rarely gave away the ball.
East Bengal climb to the third spot with this win, while Lajong suffered their third defeat of the season in four matches.
In another I-League clash in Pune, home side Pune FC went on top of the leader board defeating Mumbai FC 3-2.
In a dramatic and pacy exchange, Luciano Sabrosa's goal was nullified by Mumbai FC's Brazilian forward Josimar Da Silva.
Strikes from Montenegrin Darko Nikac and Japanese mid-fielder Ryuji Suoeka increased the lead to 3-1 for the hosts before Mohammad Rafi pulled one back for Mumbai FC and ensured the game had a tense finish for Karim Bencharifa's men.
Kolkata/Pune, Feb 1