Sporting Clube de Goa latched on to an early goal to edge past United Sports Club and finish the first leg of the Airtel I-League in an encouraging second position.
Rojen Singh scored a rare fourth minute goal to propel Sporting Clube ahead and the hosts managed to cling on to that lead till the end of the final whistle for a 1-0 victory at Duler Stadium, Goa, on Saturday.
The I-League now takes a 50-day break and Sporting Clube will be pleased to see themselves in second spot.
Sporting Clube were not really at their best and the free-flowing football that they are associated with was missing. But Oscar Bruzon’s side still showed nerves of steel to counter their rivals after Rojen had opened the account in the fourth minute. It came from an unexpectedly quick attack from a dead ball.
Sporting won a freekick and Arturo Garcia showed good presence of mind to pass the ball quickly for Boima Karpeh. The Australian striker controlled the ball well, beat one defender and when inside the danger zone, did well to pick an unmarked Rojen who only had to guide the ball into an open goal.
The goal was a huge boost for Sporting Clube, who, however, went into a shell and could not enforce themselves. They had two other chances, both from counter attacks, and both wasted by Karpeh.
For United, they had good control of the proceedings but could not create any incisive chances. Striker Ranti Martins was found wanting in front of the goal.
In the second session, Ranti had an early chance to redeem himself but with Spanish defender Gonzalo Neila hot on his chase, he lost control. Gonzalo was outstanding for Sporting Clube.
Sporting had umpteen chances to kill the game in the second session but Karpeh, the lone Sporting striker, was not up to the mark. He faltered when in front of the goal and once missed with only the goalkeeper at his mercy.
United SC could have got something from the game in the closing stages of the match but Eric Brown and Mohammad Rafique saw their powerful headers miss the target by a whisker.
(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)