Kochi: Vineeth CK starred with a double as Chirag United Kerala defeated Shillong Lajong FC 3-2, in the 21st round of the I-League football tournament at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium, on Saturday.
Vineeth scored twice while Nigerian David Sunday scored the other to ensure full three points for the host.
John D Menyongar and Boithang Haokip scored a goal each for Lajong.
Both the teams started on the aggressive note but failed to break the deadlock till the 45th minute.
When it seemed the half would end goalless, Chirag`s top scorer of the season Vineeth scored the first goal for host in the injury time.
On resumption, Lajong came out with some resolution. Eugenson Lyngdoh in the 49th minute missed an open goal from close range.
Lajong kept up the pressure and were rewarded in the 59th minute when captain Menyongar reproduced a carbon copy of Chirag`s opening goal by heading home from Eugenson Lyngdoh`s corner.
But Lajong`s joy was short lived, as Sunday produced a moment of brilliance to restore the home side`s lead by lifting the ball over advancing Lajong goalkeeper Lalthuamawia Ralte into the goal.
Chirag went 3-1 ahead in the 75th minute when Vineeth scored his second with a neat tap in.
But Lajong were in no mood to give up without a fight as coach Pradhyum Reddy brought in former Indian international Renedy Singh and Boithang Haokip after going two goals down.
In the 84th minute, Haokip scored for Lajong as the match headed for a tense climax.
But Chirag held on to a 3-2 scoreline and gained three crucial points which put them level on with Mumbai FC. They now have 17 points from 20 matches while Lajong stays on 27 points from 21 outings.
It is not pleasant at all that I had to approach the court but there was no option left for me. I am glad that I have been proved right and it has lifted my morale ahead for the Asian Games.
Manoj Kumar, Indian boxer