East Bengal, JCT register convincing wins in Durand Cup

New Delhi: East Bengal thrashed Air India 4-1 to kick off their campaign in the 123rd Durand Cup in a grand fashion, in their opening quarterfinal league match at the Ambedkar Stadium here on Saturday.

In another match, JCT scored a comfortable 3-0 victory over Sporting Clube de Goa.

Australian recruit Tolgay Ozbey struck twice while Ekene Ikenwa and Penn Orji scored a goal apiece for the red and gold brigade, after Air India took a surprise lead through Yusuf Ibrahim Tijani`s 14th-minute strike.

However, the airmen were reduced to mere spectators once East Bengal found their rhythm. The defeat also ended Air India`s campaign in the tournament.

Tolgay scored the equaliser in the 42nd minute, before putting East Bengal in lead with another strike, in the 71st minute. Nigerian striker Ikenwa scored the Kolkata outfit`s third goal in the 89th minute and former JCT midfielder Penn (90+2) took the match beyond Air India`s reach by finding the net in the injury time.

The red and gold brigade has been going through a purple patch, having won the Federation Cup earlier this month, and also leads the points tally in the Kolkata Premier League (KPL).

Sporting, too, are out of contention for a place in the semifinals after today`s defeat in the group C encounter.

After failing to find the net for 80 minutes, JCT pumped in three goals in the last ten minutes of the match to finish it off in style. Former Lajong F C midfielder, Daniel Bidemi, scored two goals, in the 83rd and 86th minute, while Ajay Singh struck the the third goal for the winners.

The win helped JCT take the top position in the group and Parminder Singh`s boys now need just a point against Garhwal Heroes to book a semifinal berth.

In tomorrow`s fixtures, Churchill Brothers will face Army Red, while Pune F C will take on Chirag United in the day`s second match.