A brace by Henry Antchouet, and another Beto strike from the spot proved to be enough for Churchill Brothers, as they coasted past the Airmen...Churchill Brothers SC strolled past Air India by a scoreline of 3-0, in a round 12 match of the I-League played at the Duler Stadium, Mapusa, on Tuesday.
A brace by Henry Antchouet in the 23rd and 53rd minute, were preceded by a Beto goal from the spot in the seventh minute.
For the hosts, Sunil Chhetri and Lamine Tamba made their I-League debuts, while Amos Omeje was handed a first start by the Airmen's coach.
The away side came close to finding the back of the net in the opening fifth minutes of the match, when a powerful free-kick taken by Micky Fernandes was tipped over the horizontal by Churchill custodian Sandip Nandy.
Karnataka referee Andrew Shekar had no option but to point to the spot after Air India defender Pradeep Mohanraj was guilty of bringing down Steven Dias in the area, who was played in by Bineesh Balan's cross, and Beto converted the penalty in the seventh minute.
India captain Sunil Chhetri, who is on-loan to Churchill Brothers from Sporting Clube de Portugal 'B' side, though failed to make a mark in the initial stages of the game.
Air India meanwhile refused to be daunted by the opposition, as Omeje Amos and Junior Obagbemiro tried to find an equaliser through their respective efforts. The home side's back line however held their nerve quite comfortably.
Then in the 23rd minute, Lenny Rodrigues slipped through a ball past Air India keeper Sukhwinder Singh, as Henry Antchouet beat the off-side trap on the far side to calmly tap the ball home despite a challenge from rival defender Rahul Bheke.
This was Churchill's second attempt on goal, which they converted as compared to a handful of chances that fell to the Mumbai-based team, who failed to make the best of their opportunities.
In one of the number of Air India's attempts, Pradeep Mohanraj sent in a floater from the left side, and Junior had enough time and space to unleash a shot, but the Nigerian's effort was blocked by the feet of Nandy in the 29th minute.
10 minutes later, Churchill had a chance to score their third goal. Bineesh Balan's cross from the left was attempted on the volley by Steven Dias, but his shot was well blocked by Air India defender Bheke.
Eight minutes into the second half, Steven Dias released Antchouet, who took advantage of the mix-up between Bheke and Air India keeper Sukhwinder Singh and placed the ball past a hapless Baldeep Singh to make it 3-0.
The second half lacked goal-mouth action other-wise, except for a few openings that fell to the Red Machines who kept on pressurising the Airmen.
A Lenny Rodrigues pass to Antchouet, saw the onrushing keeper Sukhwinder Singh spill the ball, while Dias' delivery that was aimed for Beto was headed out safely just before the hour mark, as Churchill Brothers enjoyed the larger share of ball possession.
In a rare shot on goal, Air India midfielder Prakash Thorat attempted to find the far corner from the right side, but the angle was aptly covered by Churchill keeper Nandy.
At the other end of the pitch, Beto's header off a Steven Dias corner came off the post in the 88th minute and in what was the last chance of the match, Balal Arezou headed wide from a Dias cross in injury time.
Churchill Brothers thus moved two points clear of leaders East Bengal, with 42 points from 19 matches, while Air India have 18 points, having played as many games as the Goans.
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