Salgaocar hold Mahindra to 2-2 draw in I-League encounter

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Mumbai, Jan 30 (UNI) Salgaocar rallied brilliantly on a brace by Malsawmtluanga Shylo, but could not help them register their first win in 14 games, as they held fancied Mahindra United to a 2-2 draw in the 14th round I-League match at the Cooperage, here today.

The relegation threat is still looming large over the Goan outfit, which continues to scrape the bottom of barrel with seven points, while Mahindra displaced Mohun Bagan from the fourth spot on the basis of more goals scored, although both sides have the same points (21) and same goal (+3) difference. The Kolkata brigade, however, have a game in hand.

The Visitors opened their account in the 24th minute through Malsawmtluanga Shylo off a lightning counter. The puny Mizo medio, a livewire on the right flank, finishing a move initiated by goal-keeper Milagrio Medeira, with a blinder of a strike.

Mahindra equalized a minute before half-time through a spot-kick, converted by Mohammed Rafi after substitute striker Sushil Kumar Singh was brought down in the box.

The pedestrian match perked up in the second-half with both sides hunting feverishly for the match-winner. Substitute K Thoi Singh (63rd minute) gave the jeepmen the lead, tapping in a simple rebound after Medeira had parried Sushil Kumar's shot.

But man-of-the-match Malsawmtluanga Shylo again came to Salgaocar's rescue a minute later, beating Sandip Nandy from close range after Felix Chimaokwu had squared the ball to him from the other side.

Shylo could have got a hat-trick but he essayed a feeble shot from close in the 74th minute after darting in to meet a cross from the left flank.

Both sides missed chances, with Mahindra defender N P Pradeep coming close on a couple of occasions from set-pieces. Andrews Mensah could have settled the issue in the closing stages for Mahindra but, the Ghanaian failed to trap cleanly in front of an open goal and the chance went abegging.

For the visitors, lanky Boniface Ambani spurned two good airborne chances and was pulled out in the second half.

The 'red devils', who had won their last four matches, were terribly disjointed today, being unable to strike a good rhythm. The visitors clearly had the better of the exchanges in this battle between two former champion clubs.

Mahindra meet East Bengal in Kolkata on February 3 in the 15th round while Salgaocar too take on Mohun Bagan away the next day.

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