East Bengal’s title aspirations took a hit as Churchill Brothers stretched their rich vein of form to three games in the I-League. The Kolkata giants were humbled 2-1 by the Goan side, who ripped their opponents’ slow backline in the first half before putting in a resolute defensive display in the second.

This was Churchill’s third straight win. Just three days ago, they had also defeated East Bengal’s arch-rivals Mohun Bagan with a similar scoreline. Churchill scored as early as the seventh minute of the game through Anthony Wolfe, which may have well gone on to knock the stuffing out of East Bengal.

Churchill threatened on the counter-attack and the home crowd was silenced again in the 34th minute. Here, it was Ansumana Kromah’s brilliance in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper that was a highlight. Kromah made no mistake with the empty net staring in front of him. It was Wolfe’s inch-perfect through ball that set up the goal.

Talisman Willis Plaza, who just returned from injury, was introduced in the first half by Trevor Morgan as his team struggled. In the second period, Churchill were happy to let East Bengal have the ball, and invited pressure on several occasions. The home side’s efforts in front of goal, though, were wayward.

East Bengal pulled one back through some slick play inside the opposition half. Mehtab Hossain found Robin Singh, who played a quality reverse-ball to the far post from the right, which Christopher Payne converted. Churchill defenders Adil Khan and Rowilson Rodrigues, though, were immense in the final quarter of the game to see out the win for their side, especially with Morgan’s men flooding into the opposition territory.

Churchill have moved up to sixth in the I-League table with 15 points after a modest start to the competition. East Bengal continue to stay at the top with 27 points but second-placed Aizawl FC and third-placed Mohun Bagan have play one and three games in hand respectively.

Lajong emerge triumphant in Punjab

Image Credit: I-League

Shillong Lajong climbed to fourth in the table as they overcame Minerva Punjab FC 2-1 at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana.

Samuel Lalmuanpuia opened the scoring for the visitors before Karim Nurain made it all square after converting a penalty in the 40th minute.

Brazilian Fabio Pena’s goal at the stroke of half-time proved to be the difference between the two teams. Lajong hung on to their lead in the second half to open a three-point lead ahead of fifth-placed Bengaluru FC.

Minerva, with eight points on the board, lie in eighth place.

Aizawl take top spot

Image Credit: I-League

Laldanmawia Ralte scored the winner for Aizawl FC with five minutes left on the clock to help his side beat DSK Shivajians 1-0 at Pune’s Balewadi Stadium on Tuesday. The win saw them leapfrog East Bengal and rise to the top of the table.

While Aizwal looked comfortable on the ball, it was the home side who looked dangerous on the break, but a goal eluded them for all the danger they created in the opposition box. Both sides struggled to break the deadlock for much of the second half too before Ralte scored with a simple tap-in late in the game.

The scores

  • East Bengal 1 (Christopher Payne) lose to Churchill Brothers 2 (Anthony Wolfe, Ansumana Kromah).
  • Minerva Punjab 1 (Karim Nurain) lose to Shillong Lajong 2 (Samuel Lalmuanpuia, Fabio Pena).
  • DSK Shivajians 0 lose to Aizawl 1 (Laldanmawia Ralte).