Margao: Air India held on to Baldeep Singh's first half strike to down Sporting Clube de Goa by a solitary goal in the ninth round of the I-League at Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, here on Sunday. Baldeep Singh found the net off a flag kick taken by Rahul Bheke in the 36th minute which turned out to be the match-winner.
The win takes Air India to seven points from eight matches, the same as Sporting clube de Goa which have played one match more. Both the teams, languishing at the bottom, were badly looking for a win. The home side, who last won against United Sikkim, enjoyed the edge in the middle as they had more possession of the ball in the first half and created several scoring opportunities.
Anorue Obiora Richard wasted a couple of close chances while Kalu Ogba missed an open chance. Air India, who have only a win against ONGC and draw against United Sikkim in the last match, had the first look at the rival goal but Junior Obagbemiro shot wide after receiving a pass from Ezeh Henery. The visitors punished Sporting Clube when Baldeep Singh directed the ball into the net off Rahul Bheke's flag kick from the right in the 36th minute to have Air India leading 1-0 at half time.
Changing over, Air India had a chance to increase the lead but Junior, who found his way in the Sporting box with a clever flick, saw his chip put out by rival keeper Ashok Singh to safety. Sporting, who seemed to be gaining some momentum in the game, were unlucky in not finding the equaliser as substitute Sugishita's shot hit the post.
They mounted pressure and camped into the rival half and had a chance but Kalu saw his header going wide. At the other end, Air India striker Henry missed one of the easiest chances as he failed to tap a ball from Junior inside the goal.