Koffi's solitary strike helps Lajong defeat Arrows 1-0
Shillong: Shillong Lajong returned to winning ways after a 1-0 win against the Indian Arrows at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong.
It was the solitary strike from Abdoulaye Koffi in the 80th minute that propelled Lajong to fourth place on the table, displacing Mohun Bagan.
Bobby Nongbet made two changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Chennai City FC at home. In defence, Kynsailang Khongsit replaced Laurence Doe who is suffering from a foot injury and skipper Samuel Lalmuanpuia returned to the starting XI, relegating Redeem Tlang to the bench.
Portuguese coach Luis Norton de Matos continued with his rotation policy and made seven changes to the side that went down 2-1 against NEROCA FC. Jitendra Singh was the only one to retain his place at the back-line. Edmund Lalrindika replaced Rahim Ali up-front.
After being humiliated 3-0 in their previous encounter against Indian Arrows, Lajong came out with intent and a desire to find the opener. Chances came thick and fast for the North-Eastern side and had Hardy Cliff connected to a perfectly measured diagonal ball from Samuel, the Reds could have taken the lead within the first ten minutes. The Reds had another golden opportunity to break the deadlock when Deepak Tangri handed the ball inside the penalty box. Samuel's spot-kick effort was kept out by Prabhsukhan Gill who correctly dived low to his left. Minutes later, it was Gill once again with his heroics under the bar, who denied Koffi from scoring the opener after he was fed a delicious ball from the left by Al-Hagri. Lajong started from where they left off as they kept surging forwards in search of goal after the restart. Samuel tried to make amends for his penalty miss with a superbly taken free-kick, but his effort rattled the crossbar. Gill continued his majestic form under the sticks as he kept out Hardy Cliff's towering header from a set-piece that was destined to go in. However, his goal was finally breached with ten minutes to go when Koffi unleashed a powerful strike after a brilliant turn that left Jitendra wrong-footed.