Shillong Lajong FC stripped Dempo SC of its pride with a memorable 3-0 victory in the opening round of the Airtel I-League at the Duler Stadium, Mapusa, on Sunday.
Dempo are in a transition phase under coach Arthur Papas but not even their staunchest supporter would have anticipated such a result in the opening 45 minutes as Lajong’s foreign striker, World Cupper Glen Cornell and Boithang Haokip struck for the visitors in the first session. Cornell completed his brace after the change of ends.
Dempo and Lajong understandably started cautiously but it were always the visitors that posed the major threat. Cornell and Silva were a constant threat and did manage to create scares in the rival defence, which was manned by the foreign duo of Simon Collosimo and Shinnosuke Honda.
The first threat came in the seventh minute when Silva and Cornell combined effectively but Cornell’s left-footer missed the target narrowly.
The hosts were playing the waiting game, and with just one player upfront did not pose much of a threat. Lajong, however, were willing to take the risks and they were rewarded for their open-game approach just after the half hour mark. Silva’s long ball from the centre was trapped well by Cornell, who sidestepped his marker, and then chose the top corner of the net with a brilliant curling left-footer.
It could have been really bad for Dempo a few minutes later when a counter-attack saw Milan Singh with two players by his side. Instead of releasing the ball to one of the foreign striker, Milan chose to go for glory himself and didn’t end up troubling Dempo goalkeeper Subashish Roy Chowdhury.
Chowdhury, however, was responsible for Lajong’s second goal as he needlessly left his charge and handled the ball outside his area. A freekick was promptly awarded and the Dempo goalkeeper was found wanting again as he failed to block the resultant attempt from Boithang Haokip.
Just before the change of ends, Dempo supporters had their heart in their mouth when a defensive slip saw Silva’s full-blooded shot crash against the crossbar.
In the second session, Dempo were expected to provide a fitting reply. Instead, it were Lajong who inflicted more pain on the former I-League champions. It was Cornell, again, who showed his predatory skills when he grabbed a ball and gave no chance to Chowdhury with an angular effort.
Dempo rarely troubled Lajong goalkeeper Vinay Singh. In fact, they hardly had any significant attempts on goal.
(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)