Shillong, Dec 29: Shillong Lajong’s I-League 2018-19 season continued to slip further towards absolute disaster as they were thrashed 6-1 by Chennai City in Coimbatore today.
This is the second time in three games that Lajong have lost by such an embarrassing margin (the other time came against Real Kashmir) and they have now conceded 30 goals in 10 games – exactly three per match. To put that into perspective, in these 10 matches of 2018-19 Lajong have now conceded more goals than they did in each of the previous four seasons (see table below). Lajong are also the first team to concede 30 this year; the next closest is Aizawl FC with 17.
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Today Pedro Manzi scored a second half hat-trick for the hosts, while Nestor Gordillo picked up a goal on either side of half time. Robert Eslava was Chennai’s other goal scorer. Samuel Lalmuanpuia scored his second goal of the season (after his 15th November strike against Churchill Brothers) in the 53rd minute after Chennai had already scored three goals.
This was Chennai City’s first win over Lajong in five I-League meetings (the other results were two draws and two wins for SLFC) and it propelled Chennai back to first place in the standings with 21 points. Lajong continue to remain rock bottom in 11th place with just four points; this was their eighth loss in 10 matches this season.
Alison Kharsyntiew made four changes to his starting line-up from the game against Mohun Bagan. In came Mebankhraw Wahlang (who had not been used in the last four outings), Sheen Sohktung, Allen Lyngdoh Nongbri and Novin Gurung, while Rakesh Pradhan, Hardycliff Nongbri, Samuel Lyngdoh Kynshi and Aiban Dohling were left out. This was the first time all season that the latter two didn’t start a Lajong game. Gurung, however, lasted only around 30 minutes and he was swapped for Naorem Mahesh Singh.
Sandro Rodriguez opened things up for Chennai in the 12th minute with a corner kick that was headed in by Gordillo. Another Rodriguez corner gave the hosts a 2-0 advantage in the 38th with Eslava this time getting above the defenders to head home.
Manzi got the first of his goals in the 49th minute when Samuel Lalmuanpuia lost the ball outside the box, but the Lajong captain made up for that somewhat when, four minutes later, he struck one of the most sublime free-kicks of his burgeoning career straight into the back of the net.
A dozen or so minutes later, though, Lalmuanpuia was taken off the pitch in favour of Kynshi, but the situation went from bad to worse, with three more goals for the league leaders.
Gordillo claimed his brace in the 69th minute after an assist from Edwin Vanspaul. Manzi reached his brace in the 78th minute and Vanspaul was then the victim of a foul in the box, which Manzi converted in the 81st. Phurba Tempa Lachenpa had guessed the right way, but the ball still slipped under his arm and into the net.
The floodlights went out at around about this time, necessitating a lengthy interruption and though Chennai went hunting for a seventh goal, they were denied.
There were very few chances for Lajong in the game, besides that Lalmuanpuia free-kick. A few were spoiled by weak shots, others by a too much hesitation.
One of the best failed attempts was when Sohktung timed a great run forward to go one-on-one with goalkeeper Nauzet Garcia in the 76th minute, but his shot went straight to the custodian and Kitboklang Pale’s attempt off the rebound then tickled the outside of the net.
Lajong will next play against NEROCA on 4th January in Imphal.