Chennai City started the 2021 season of I-League on a winning note with a 2-1 win against Gokulam Kerala at the Kalyani Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday.
In what was an exciting contest between the two South Indian clubs, the Malabarians required just three minutes to break the deadlock. Dennis Antwi took advantage of a defence that went to sleep during a corner-kick routine to slam home the opening goal for Vincenzo Annese's team.
There were chances to score at both ends of the field, with Iqubal going close with a free-kick and Philip Adjah shooting wide from a promising position.
The leveller came in the 26th minute when Serbian forward Vladimir Molerovic was brought down inside the box. Elvedin Skrijelj made full use of the chance and scored the equaliser from 12 yards.
A brilliant move five minutes after the restart helped Chennai to take the lead for the first time in the game. Vijay Naggapan played a delightful give-and-go with Demir Avdic before slotting home his team's second goal of the night.
The Malabarians continued to put pressure to get back into the game but a compact Chennai defence held on to take the three points from their season opener.
Pritam nets winner in Punjab's win
Pritam Ningthoujam’s splendid strike in the 18th minute was enough for Punjab to secure a victory against a wasteful Aizawl side which failed to convert their chances.
A frantic start to the game saw Aizawl pin Punjab to their own half and they had a glorious chance to open the scoring in the 10th minute. Brandon met Princewell Emeka's clever backheel pass inside the box with a powerful shot but his effort was blocked.
Eight minutes later, Punjab made them pay when Pritam struck a terrific effort with the outside of his boot to score the only goal of the game.
Aizawl had the lion's share of the ball for most of the game but struggled to convert possession into goals and were wasteful in front of goal.
Mohammedan edge Sudeva in the clash of the newbies
Newly-promoted club Mohammedan registered a narrow 1-0 win against I-League debutants Sudeva in the season opener held at the VYBK Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday.
The game off to a nervous start as both teams refused to take risks with their players' off-the-ball movements. The best chance of the first half fell to Mohammedan in the 17th minute when Raphael Onwrebe missed a sitter in front of the goal from Suraj Rawat's excellent low cross into the box from the right flank.
Mohammedan finally managed to break the deadlock in the 58th minute. Ali Faisal pounced on a defensive error by the Sudeva defence and found the back of the net, getting the better of goalkeeper Rakshit Dagar who managed to get his hand to the ball.
Sudeva threw bodies into the Mohammedan box in search of an equaliser throughout the rest of the second half but the second division champions managed to prevent late drama.