Bengaluru/Mumbai: Heavyweights East Bengal and JSW Bengaluru FC ended their respective I-League campaigns in style, finishing third and and fourth respectively. Defending champions Bengaluru beat Churchill Brothers 3-0, while the Kolkata giants humbled Mumbai FC 4-0 today.
In the day's first kick-off, hosts ensured they ended their campaign on 30 points from 18 matchese. Churchill on the other hand finished with 20 points from 18 matches, their position in the table to be decided on Sunday.
Keeping an eye on the forthcoming Federation Cup which kicks-off on May 7, BFC Coach Albert Roca preferred to rest a number of his star players. Goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte was handed his first I-League game with the Blues fielding just one foreigner -- defender Juanan pairing up with Sandesh Jhingan in Central defence.
With the starting eleven boasting of five U-22 players, the hosts surged into the lead as early as the 5th minute with former AIFF Academy product Gursimrat Singh swaying an inch- perfect cross from the right flank for another former AIFF Academy product Daniel Lalhlimpuia to tap it in.
A minute before conceding the goal, Churchill, however, had bagged the first corner of the match which they failed to capitalize.
The visitors missed an easy chance to equalize few minutes later, when Anthony D'souza despite finding himself in an 1v1 with Goalkeeper Ralte failed to make the most of it.
Meanwhile some silky touches from the talented Udanta Singh puzzled Churchill defence. And it was the slippery Manipuri who doubled the lead in the 35th minute.
Grabbing a through pass, he cut in past the onrushing rival keeper Naveen Kumar, controlled it, and slotted it home as BFC headed to the interval with a two-goal cushion.
Changing over, Churchill brought in striker Kromah, in an effort to add more thrust in attack. Both Kromah and his captain Anton Wolfe raided Bengaluru with solo efforts but an alert Bengaluru defence wasn't to be broken.
The final goal for the Blues came in the 84th minute – winger Mandar Rao Dessai curling it in off a pass from Salam Ranjan Singh.
Mandar was adjudged the Hero of the Match.
In the second and last match of the day, Willis Plaza struck a brace as East Bengal thrashed Mumbai FC 4-0 in their concluding match to finish third in the league.
Coach Oscar Bruzon made two changes in the Mumbai team that drew against Shillong Lajong last Sunday.
The East Bengal attack was well-organised and they played at a very fast pace and with some swift moves often catching the Mumbai defence napping.
In the eight minute, Rowlin Borges worked with wing back Rahul Bheke to break free down the right. Borges after advancing deep sent a low ball into the area. Willis Plaza failed to connect but Bikash Jairu charged in from the left side and with an on-the-run essay found the roof of the net to give the visitors the lead.
Jairu who had an outstanding game was later adjudged the 'Man-of-the-match'.
The Mumbai team survived from conceding the second goal in the very next minute, but Ansleme Wedson after creating space inside the area blasted over from close.
The home side fought on gallantly and made some determined efforts to find the equaliser. Their hard-working striker Victorino Fernandes had a couple of shots at goal and came close in the 31st minute, but his header from Lugun's delivery from the left went wide off the upright.
Ten minutes later, East Bengal doubled the lead when Plaza after controlling the ball near the edge of area beat goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani with a snap shot. The ball brushed the fingertips of Kattimani.
Although the home side pressed hard after resumption but in a bid to get back into the game they let their guard down at the back and paid dearly as the visiting Bengal side added two more goals through Ansleme in the 62nd minute and Plaza in the 68th minute to finish with a deserving win.
Currently, Mumbai FC are in ninth place with 13 points ahead of Minerva Punjab who have 12 points but with a match in hand against DSK Shivajians on Sunday.
East Bengal with 33 points stay in third position.
Results: Mumbai FC 0 lost to East Bengal 4 (Bikash Jairu 8th, Willis Plaza 41st, 68th, Wedson Ansleme 62nd).