I-League 2017-18: Minerva Punjab 0-1 East Bengal: Cavin Lobo’s bullet strike keeps Reds and Golds in title race
A goal at the one hour mark from Cavin Lobo saw Khalid Jamil’s men seal full points from the clash at Panchkula.

On Tuesday afternoon, East Bengal triumphed against table toppers Minerva Punjab 1-0, thanks to a spectacular strike from Cavin Lobo who registered the winning goal in the 60th minute.

The Warriors , who opted for a 4-2-3-1 shape, made one change from their win against Shillong Lajong as midfielder Souvik Das was brought in to replace defender Abhishek Ambekar. As for the visiting side, Mahmoud Al Amna, Arnab Mondal and Yami Longvah replaced Ansumana Kroma, Mehtab Singh and Joby Justin as they lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation.

Reds and Golds got off to a good start as they showed intent in attack. Syrian international Al Amna attempted an ambitious shot from nearly 40 yards in the 6th minute which went straight into the hands of goalkeeper Rakshit Dagar. In the 14th minute, Minerva Punjab’s defence failed to clear midfielder Katsumi Yusa’s long free-kick which saw Dudu Omagbemi's attempt at an overhead kick go awry.

While East Bengal had the better control of the game, Minerva Punjab tried to trouble the backline of the Kolkata-based outfit when Eric Dano tried to poke the ball into the net from inside the 18-yard-box in the 30th minute but custodian Ubaid CK collected it safely.

Minerva Punjab East Bengal

However, it was in the 33rd minute that the visitors had the best chance of the match when Mahmoud Al Amna’s through ball found Dudu Omagbemi on the right with the latter feeding Yami Longvah with a cross into the centre of the box. Placed right in front of the target, debutant Longvah failed to send the ball home from close-range as he released a loose shot which was easily blocked by the legs of an alert Rakshit Dagar.

Laldanmawia Ralte’s shot inside the box hit the hands of Eric Dano but Khalid Jamil’s men were unfortunate as the official overlooked the foul which was worthy of a penalty kick.

The deadlock was finally broken at the hour mark with Cavin Lobo finding the net with a terrific piledriver. Set up by a backheel from team-mate Al Amna, Lobo released a powerful right-footed shot which banged straight into the top corner to give Reds and Golds the much-needed lead.

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Minerva Punjab East Bengal

In an attempt to salvage his side, stalwart Chencho Gyeltshen released a half-volley from the edge of the box in the 72nd minute but the effort was parried away by goalkeeper Ubaid who dived to his left. The Bhutanese dangerman had a similar chance in the 78th minute when he got the better of defender Eduardo Ferreira but failed to send his effort past Ubaid, who had a brilliant day in goal. In the 85th minute, William Opoku had the chance to register the equalizer with his header but the effort went wide of the target.

At the final whistle, East Bengal walked off with full points as they took their tally to 26, thereby reducing the gap to just three points off Minerva Punjab at the top of the league standings.

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