Updated: December 26, 2017 8:06:21 pm
Indian Arrows produced an impressive display of possession football with Nongdamba Naorem scoring a peach of a goal in a solo run to provide the icing on the cake in their 3-0 drubbing of Shillong Lajong in an entertaining I-League match.
The All India Football Federation’s developmental side, made up mostly of the country’s U-17 World Cup squad, completely toyed with their opponents with an overwhelming possession and show of sleek passing en route notching up their second win of the league. They scored through Jitendra Singh (19th minute), Nongdamba Naorem (86th) and Rahul Kannoly (90+1) to walk away with full three points at the Amebedkar Stadium to bounce back from their three successive losses.
Jitendra also became the youngest ever goal scorer in the I-League at 16 years, 6 months and 13 days. The previous youngest was Baoringdao Bodo who was 17 years, 3 months and 18 days old when he scored for Minerva Punjab against Mumbai FC in February this year. The Arrows, the youngest side in the I-League, played the final half an hour with one-man advantage after Lajong’s F Lalrohlua was sent off for his second bookable offence in the 60th minute.
Naorem’s 86th minute strike was easily the goal of the season so far as he cut in from the left channel and dodged past six Lajong players before slotting the ball past an onrushing goalie into the net. Naorem had come into the match as a substitute in the 75th minute.
This was Arrow’s second win in five matches and they are now at sixth spot with six points. After beginning their campaign with a 3-0 win over Chennai City FC, they slumped to three successive losses — 0-2 and 0-1 against Minerva Punjab and 0-2 against Gokulam Kerala — before today’s win. Lajong now occupy fourth spot with 10 points from seven matches — three wins, one draw and three losses. Today’s win by Arrow’s was a post Christmas gift of sorts for their coach Luis Norton de Matos who has taken a few days break to be at home this festive season.
He is expected to be back for their next home game on January 2 against mighty East Bengal. In de Matos’ absence, Floyd Pinto was at the helm of affairs of the Arrows and he began with all but one of his playing eleven with boys who were in India’s U-17 World Cup squad.
The side led by Amarjit Singh Kiyam completely outplayed Lajong in the first half. The visiting side tried to come back in the second session and pressed for the equaliser but their hopes were dealt a severe blow with the red card of Lalrohlua in the 60th minute.
The Arrows were also playing without any foreign players while Lajong fielded their full quota of five players from abroad.
The midfield trio of Jeakson Singh Thounaojam, Amarjit and Suresh Singh proved too hot to handle for the Lajong defence line and the trio regularly slipped passes into the final third.
Lajong players chased the ball all day as the Arrows’ youngsters distributed the ball nicely, not allowing their more physically superior opponents to close in on them. As was shown during the U-17 World Cup, the Arrows players were impeccable in their organisation also. Arrow’s goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh was called for action just thrice in the entire match.
In the 17th minute, the Lajong defence was split open by a Ningthoinganba Meetei pass but Abhijit Sarkar’s left-footed shot from close range was blocked. Two minutes later, central defender Jitendra Singh burst onto the scene from a throw-in and netted the ball home to give the Arrow’s the lead.
In the second half, Lajong tried to come back into the match and pressed for the equaliser but nothing much happenned for them as Jitendra and Anwar Ali marshalled the Arrows’ defence nicely.
In the 60th minute, Lajong were reduced to ten men after Lalrohlua was given his marching order by the referee for a rash tackle on Ninthoinganba.
Indian Arrows made their first substitution of the match as Abhishek Halder replaced Jeakson in the midfield in the 70th minute. Naorem came on for Abhijit Sarkar in the 76th minute as the Arrows made a defensive change to keep Lajong at bay.
In the 86th minute, substitute Naorem put the game out of Lajong’s reach as he dribbled past six defenders and slotted the ball home. Rahul, who also came as a substitute in the 82nd minute, then struck in the first minute of the injury-stoppage time to make it 3-0.
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