Daniel Leads Chirag To Victory

Kolkata side Chirag United gained a much needed three points in their match against Air India in the I-League on Saturday, as a first half goal from Bedemi Daniel led them to a 1-0 win at the Salt Lake Stadium.

I-League: Daniel Leads Chirag To Victory
Chirag United 1-0 Air India  
First Half 
Although Air India started the match slightly brighter of the two sides, it was Chirag United who had the first chance. 

That was in the eighth minute, when a long ball from the midfield was headed wide from inside the Air India penalty area by Muritala Ali. 

Six minutes later Muritala again had the chance to stroke his side into the lead but it was more an audacious attempt than a carefully constructed move. He gained possession of the ball some 40 yards from the Air India goal and took a ferocious shot that flew wide off the target without worrying the visiting side's goalkeeper Swarup Das. 

One minute later the Airmen were hit with an injury blow when Napolean Singh had to be carried out. He was replaced by Surojit Roy. 

The match then went into a pale phase during which neither of the two sides looked like they were eager to score, both set of players happy to make the game as flat as possible. 

Then the hosts sparked into action in the 24th minute. A right-footed corner from Lalmalsawma Hmar was only marginally cleared out by the Air India players. The ball fell to Denson Devadas, whose fiercely hit shot was deflected onto a lurking Daniel near the six-yard box. He drilled in a forceful left footer that flew into the back of Swarup Das' net. 

This was Chirag's tenth goal in the league this season and their first since November and understandably gave them a huge boost. 

Chirag started to press on after that, Sankar Oraon striking over the crossbar from just in front of the Airmen penalty box. 

One minute later, though, the Mumbai side almost equalized. Employing their usual long ball tactic, they managed to cajole Chirag custodian Gopal Das into committing a mistake inside his own box. The ball was then defected seemingly onto Daniel's hand. But the referee didn't heed the hand ball appeal from Bimal Ghosh's side. Air India continued their quest for an equalizer.

Subhash Singh had a great chance in the 40th minute when he received the ball inside Chirag's box. Unmarked, he tried to chip the ball over Das, which he did, but unfortunately for him, the ball was chipped a little too ambitiously: it went just over the crossbar. 

Second Half 

Air India started the second half with more urgency, as they needed to score the equalizer early. Subhash Singh found himself unmarked inside Chirag's penalty area just minutes into the restart but his left footer went off target.

But the home side weren't in a mood to concede their lead. Chirag's scorer Muritala took a first time left footed shot from 20 yards out but it was hit straight at Swarup Das.  

Air India coach Bimal Ghosh then made a tactical substitution in the 55th minute when he pulled out defender Ravinder Singh and brought on striker Emanuel Ovieghara. 

The match, though, soon faded into an unentertaining affair as neither side managed to show much adventurous spirit.

Muritala did make a couple or so attempts to stretch his side's advantage but his shots were feeble and more hopeful than optimistic. 

For Air India, Subhash Singh and Emanuel Ovieghara showed commitment and had their half-chances but they didn't look to be forceful. 

Ten minutes before the final whistle, Air India were reduced to ten men as Emanuel was shown a direct red for ridiculously hacking down Daniel, going straight for the Chirag defender with no inclination to get the ball. 
Michael Tayo almost equalized in the 85th minute when he flew in with a header at the near post but it was parried out for a corner by Chirag custodian Gopal Das.

Chirag then went close on a couple of occasions but Subrata Bhattacharjee’s side had done enough to register a well deserved and vital victory in their bid to stave off relegation.

Chirag United: Daniel 24' 
Subhankar Mondal