The champions of the last two seasons of the I-League met at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Aizawl. Aizawl, who have been struggling a bit this season, did see this as an opportunity to bounce back and to gain some much-needed confidence. Lancine Toure and William Opoku, however, proved to be a lethal combination for Minerva, especially during corner kicks. Minerva scored two, one in the 10th minute and the other in the 58th minute, through Lancine Toure, from two inch perfect corners taken by Opoku. Aizawl pulled one back in the 84th minute, after a penalty was awarded to Aizawl after Minerva’s Akashdeep Singh had handled the ball in the box; Leonce Dodoz converted the resulting penalty.
Indian Arrows met Mohun Bagan at the Barabati Stadium, with the Kolkata outfit looking to win the first match of the 2018 campaign. A brace from Dipanda was enough to win it for Bagan, who had dominated proceedings and had a lion’s share of the possession. The first came after Henry Kisseka, who had missed a sitter earlier, set it up beautifully for Dipanda to head the ball into the goal. The second came through a penalty in the first minute of the injury time of the first half, after Boris had committed a handball in the Arrows’ penalty box. Bagan could have scored more, but apart from the two goals, they were pretty lousy in the final third.
TRC Stadium, Srinagar, played host to the much touted encounter between NEROCA and debutants Real Kashmir, the latter, despite having started their maiden I League campaign strongly, were looking to win their first match at home. However, it turned out to be a bad day for the Snow Leopards, with NEROCA’s Felix Chidi Odili scoring a brace, giving the visitors their first win of the season. The first came in at the 28th minute, after a lousy clearance by Loveday Okechukwu resulted in the ball falling at Felix’s feet, who made no mistake in slotting it past the Kashmir custodian into the far post. The second came in at the 75th minute, when a defensive blunder saw Felix, completely unmarked in the box, slotting the ball past Bilal. Kashmir, despite having played quite well throughout the match, would be ruing the defensive lapses that led to the goals.
Gokulam Kerala hosted Shillong Lajong at the EMS Stadium, with both teams looking to bounce back from defeats in their previous matches, against Chennai City and Indian Arrows, respectively. Gokulam started the match strongly, but were unable to find the net in the first half. However, in the 46th minute, Gani Ahmed, intelligently assisted by Daniel Addo, slotted the ball past the Shillong Lajong goalie. They doubled their lead in the 56th minute, after Guilherme Castro’s corner kick was met fiercely by Antonio German, which, after taking a slight deflection on the way, went into the net. Ten minutes later, Gani delivered the ball from the left flank, which was directed into the corner of the goal by Rajesh’s right foot. Shillong scored a consolation, in the 78th minute, after a lethal strike by Phrangki Buam, off a Sheen Stevenson cross, went in off the upright. Gokulam, having dominated the match, got the much deserved and very important three points.
East Bengal met Chennai City FC at the Yuva Bharati Krirangan, with both teams looking to finish top of the table at the end of Matchday 4. Chennai City, however, completely bossed the midfield, with the East Bengal medios Kamalpreet Singh and Lalrindika Ralte looking completely out of sorts. Despite that, East Bengal looked to have done a good job at holding Chennai City FC, till the 87th minute, when Nestor Gordillo scored from the penalty spot. Chennai opened the scoring through Sandro Rodriguez in the second minute of first half’s injury time, and Enrique had equalised for the Red and Golds in the 52nd minute. Chennai City would be delighted with how they have performed in the league, so far, and also for having established a slight cushion at the top. East Bengal, on the other hand, have a lot to ponder, and would need to sort out their midfield worries, which have aggravated due to the unavailability of Al Amna and Menendez’s inability to fit Kasim Aidara in his system.