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Salgaocar score first win in I-League


Margao : The wait is over, finally. Salgaocar Sports Club grabbed their first win in the I-League after they huffed and puffed their way past Viva Kerala 1-0 at Nehru Stadium in Goa.

The win, thanks to Beevan D’Mello’s 66th minute strike, was a small consolation to the former National Football League (NFL) champions who still look certain to be relegated to the Second Division NFL.

Salgaocar coach Savio Medeira dropped a bombshell, quite literally, at the start preferring to bench top scorer Felix Chimaokwu. The Nigerian striker sported a bandaged knee, but did not seem in any discomfort when he came on as a second half substitute.

Instead, Salgaocar preferred to start with young Beevan D’Mello and Kenyan striker Boniface Ambani. While Beevan caught the attention of everyone, including coach Bob Houghton, with his sublime skills Ambani was a big letdown.

Right from the start, both teams seemed eager to go for the kill. And though neither team could break the deadlock in the first 45 minutes, it did provide for an enthralling and entertaining first session.

Salgaocar, quite expectedly, were the first to tear into their visitors. But Brazilian Fabio dos Passos’ lunging header in the 11th minute of play was spectacularly parried away by Viva Kerala goalkeeper V. Nelson.

Four minutes later, Salgaocar had a narrow escape at the other end. V Lalu nicely picked up Wisdom Abbey. The Ghanaian sharpshooter kept his marker Peter Costa at arms length, but Salgaocar goalkeeper Marcus Basumatari saved the day for his team with an astonishing one-hand save.

Viva Kerala, despite starting with both their foreign strikers, in an attacking line-up, offered little up front. Wisdom Abbey was surprisingly slow off the track and had to be replaced by Sunil in the second session while Nigerian striker Badmus Babatunder had a quiet evening.

Beevan D’Mello was an unlikely hero for Salgaocar as he helped maintain the home side’s dominance.

Beevan, a prolific goal scorer in youth competitions, scored the only goal of the match in the 66th minute gliding home a Rocus Lamare cross after William Colaco had done all the hard work to pick his captain in the rival penalty zone.

Beevan’s match winner seemed apt reward for the youngster who went agonisingly close in the first session. Fed on the platter by Shylo Malswathulunga, Beevan had only the rival goalkeeper to beat, but the youngster ended shooting straight at the upright.