The relegation threat seems to have dismantled Air India all the way and it did not help their cause as they suffered a 0-3 defeat at the hands of East Bengal in a home tie played at the Sahu Maharaj ground, Kolhapur on Monday.
Already hit by a numerous injuries to their key player, a win against the title aspirants was always going to be a tough ask and it was further proved well as East Bengal in-form striker, Tolgay Ozbey grabbed a superb hat-trick after stalemate prevailed over the first forty-five minutes to put his side back in the title hunt.
Air India have 14 points in their kitty after the end of the Round 20 matches and they need to at least win four of the remaining six matches in the league to save themselves from being relegated. The upper hand in the match was surely there for the Kolkata outfit as they started on an aggressive note.
Though, the Federation Cup champions had the call throughout the match, but couldn’t break the deadlock in the first half. Tolgay’s act came to rescue as he found the target thrice in the second half.
At half time the scoreline read 0-0. It was after resumption that the East Bengal came to fore in their play. The 70th minute marked the opening goal as the Aussie striker low header off defender Ravinder Singh cross was enough to beat Air India custodian.
Though Air India did try and come close at many instances, but they were unable to make the final cut which cost them to the core. In the 87th minute East Bengal’s Australian striker came back to score the second goal. He beat Santosh Koli of Air India and tapped the ball in comfortably.
The final nail in the coffin was once again nailed by Tolgay in the injury time. After getting a cross from midfielder Mehtab Hussain from the right, he headed the ball into the post beating Air India goalkeeper Souvik all ends. The hat-trick for Tolgay fetched him the Man of the Match.
Posted on : Tuesday April 05, 2011