Air India finish 1-1 with Oil India to stay in semis hunt
Barasat, Dec 14 (IANS) Air India saved themselves the blushes with a late strike to finish 1-1 against a fighting Oil India in a group D football match of the 30th Federation Cup here Sunday.
After a sedate first half, the proceedings livened up in the second session, with the young Oil India side showing the same flair and pace which earned them many admirers in their defeat against Mohun Bagan Friday.
The Assam team went into the lead in the 64th minute through a spectacular strike from Raju Kanwar, but Michael Tayo kept Air India's hopes alive by restoring parity a minute before the final whistle. Tayo's effort also showed the exit door to Oil India, as they culled only a solitary point from two games.
The Oilmen drew first blood when Nigerian Okwuelum Ezekiel fail to convert through a cross from the left, but Raju Kanwar followed up well and fired a 25-yard snap shot which bulleted into the net.
Air India upped the ante after conceding the goal, and got several chances which went abegging. Subhash Singh alone muffed up three of them in quick succession.
With the clock ticking, the sparse crowd at the Vidyasagar stadium started bracing themselves up for a big upset. But Tayo turned the script upside down from a counter as he put the ball in following a quick pass from Subhas Singh.
The first half was uneventful with a 30 yarder from Air India's Surojit Roy that sailed over being the only highlight.
However, the second session gave the spectators their money's worth.
Oil India could have scored in the 50th minute when Ezekiel showed fine ball control to draw three defenders before letting loose a strong shot but Air India goalkeeper Arup Debnath flung himself in the air and punched out for a corner.
Durga Boro, the centrepiece in Oil India's exhilarating showing against Mohun Bagan, then seized the limelight in the 58th minute when he displayed quick reflexes to flick a ball goalward, but the woodwork stood in the way.
Oil India could have regained the lead in injury time, as Minto Boro found himself in the clear, but braveheart Arup Debnath dived and snatched the ball from his feet.
Air India now have four points from two games.
Only one team will move to the semi final from the group which also includes Mohun Bagan and Vasco.
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