Shillong: Relegation-threatened Shillong Lajong struck a late winner to stun title contenders Mahindra United 1-2 in a crucial round 21 I-League encounter here on Saturday.
The odds were heavily staked in favour of Mahindra who had lost just one match prior to Saturday’s game but the home side made a remarkable comeback from one-goal down and scored the winner three minutes from full time.
Daniel Bidemi’s 87th minute goal gave Lajong full three points after team-mate Boithang Haokip (53rd minute) had cancelled out Mahindra United forward Mohd. Rafi’s eighth minute strike.
In fact, Lajong, who continued their winning streak on home turf, dominated almost the entire 90 minutes, making frequent forays into the opposition territory.
The visitors put pressure on the home side early in the match and took the lead in the eighth minute when Mohd Rafi’s header off a cross from Svetozar Muin found the Lajong net.
After missing a number of chances in the first half, Lajong scored the equaliser in the 53rd minute when a shot by Anil Gurung hit the cross bar and bounced back to Boithang Haokip who made no mistake to beat the Mahindra custodian.
In the 15th minute, Lajong’s new African recruit Kelechi Okoye missed an open chance from a cross from Niwan Gatphoh. He hit the ball wide despite having the Mahindra defence in disarray.
In the 17th minute, Bidemi hit one inside the goal, but only to find the referee ruling for off-side.
The visitors missed a gilt-edged chance in the 44th minute when captain K Ajayan’s shot touched Lajong goalkeeper R Lalthnammawia’s fingers and sailed over the cross bar.
In the 87th minute, Nigerian James Gbilee set up a simple header for his fellow countryman and man-of-the-match Daniel Bidemi to score the winning goal for the home side.
With this win, Lajong, who were at second from bottom before Saturday’s match, climbed up to 10th place in the table with 24 points.
First Published: Saturday, April 17, 2010, 20:14