Kolkata (West Bengal)[India], August 19 (ANI): Champions FC Goa bounced back in the 131st Durand Cup after their loss to Mohammedan Sporting on the opening day, with a solitary Muhammed Nemil goal victory at a rainy, blustery Kishore Bharati Krirangan (KBK) here in Kolkata.
FC Goa joins Mohammedan Sporting and Bengaluru FC with three points in Group A, even though the latter have a game in hand. Jamshedpur FC is the other team in the Group. The top two teams from each Group qualify for the quarter-finals.
The champions got their goal early through Nemil who struck his second in two games in the tournament. The move came from the right when Mevan Dias broke through and delivered a minus inside the box finding his classy centre-forward in space. Nemil, turned, transferred the ball to his favoured left foot and found the bottom corner with precision, past a diving Air Force keeper Shibinraj's outstretched left hand.
He could have made it three for the tournament 15 minutes later, but this time his curler from just outside the box, missed narrowly. The Gaurs took the lead into the break.
In the second half, the Airmen did try and apply some pressure but the organised and well-schooled Gaurs' defence held firm. The Air Force upped the ante in search of an equaliser and in the final 10 minutes got several chances to draw level. Mohd. Aqib first hit the cross-bar and then substitute Prabhjot Singh unleashed a wonderful free-kick, drawing a fantastic save from Goa keeper Hrithik Tiwari.
The Air Force got as many as three corners as well in the last few minutes and one move in particular where Aqib delivered a measured floater from the right, only to elude yet another substitute Tombing Guizam's head, despite a flying effort from the latter with an open goal in front.
The Airmen come back for their second game against a Sunil Chhetri-led Bengaluru FC at the same venue on August 23 while their opponents today, have a week-long break, playing Jamshedpur FC at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) on August 26. (ANI)