Early Gadkari goal helps AI sink Mumbai FC
Pune: Air India notched up a solitary first half goal victory over city rivals Mumbai FC in their 17th round I-League encounter at the Balewadi Sports Complex ground on Saturday.
The victory, their seventh, helped boost the airmen`s point tally to 24 and keep them in the ninth spot while Mumbai FC occupied the 11th spot with 14 points after suffering their 11th defeat.
AI had the better share of the exchanges with their frontliners Henry Ezeh and Sandesh Gadkari keeping Mumbai FC defence on their toes.
Gadkari scored the match-winner in the fifth minute of the game to provide AI with their first win over their Mumbai city rivals in six encounters.
Gadkari trapped the ball on the right wing following a clearance, moved up to the top of the box to catch the Mumbai FC defence by surprise and left-footed the ball into the rival goal.
AI had two more chances soon after taking the lead but Ezeh Henry missed a one-on-one situation against rival custodian Nidhin Lal and then medio Bijoy Basfore`s left-footed shot from the edge of the box was punched out by Lal.
In the second-half, a frustrated Mumbai FC resorted to rough play.
AI also received three yellow cards and following double bookings Takayuki Omi, Pratik Chaudhary and Henry will all sit out of the next match.
Mumbai FC got one clear chance in the 74th minute when Sukore cut through into the box but delayed taking the final shot and paid the price as the ball was cleared.
AI could have scored in injury time but striker Manandeep Singh muffed from close range.
Airmen`s Lamine Tamba was declared man of the match.