I-League 2017-18: Churchill Brothers 1-1 East Bengal - Mechac Koffi strikes on debut to deny visitors the three points
The Ivory Cost striker scored a late equaliser for the home side after Joby Justin had given East Bengal a first-half lead....

Debutant Mechah Koffi's 75th-minute strike cancelled out Joby Justin's opener (26') as the I-League 2017-18 clash between Churchill Brothers and East Bengal ended 1-1 at the Tilak Maidan on Monday.

The home side made four changes from their last outing with Banpynkhrawnam Nongkhlaw, Alber Gonsalves, Eric Obinna Chukwunyelu being replaced by Wayne Vaz, Alber Gonsalves and Mechac Koffi. Former Pune FC man PM Britto also made his first season start.

Vaz and Martins have been acquired on-loan from Indian Super League (ISL) outfits FC Pune City and FC Goa respectively while Koffi is one of the four new signings alongside Bektur Talgat, Cisse Gwada and Hussein Eldor.

East Bengal replaced Cavin Lobo with Mohammed Rafique in midfield. Jobby Justin continued to feature up top as Willis Plaza made his way onto the bench after being declared fit.

Churchill Brothers could have had the first bite of the cherry in the 10th minute but Uttam Rai wasn't able to connect cleanly to Nicholas Fernandes' cross after an exemplary pass from Obga Kalu to the left winger.

Nicholas did well to set up Peter Omoduemuke but the Nigerian shot over the target and a couple of minutes later, the home side fell behind.

Jobby Justin dived in to nod Laldanmawia Ralte's delivery from the right in the 26th minute to give East Bengal the lead.

The lead was almost doubled by Mahmoud Al-Amna who managed to get on the end of a neat through-ball by Justin. However, the Syrian's effort crept past the far post.

Kalu missed the target by inches after a free-kick taken by Peter was cleared around the hour mark. The Red Machines eventually replied with a goal in the 75th minute when Koffi controlled the ball and curled it past a hapless Luis Barreto from around 18 yards after a neat one-two with Britto.

Five minutes later, Churchill Brothers could have pulled ahead with Koffi getting past Arnab Mondal and crossing the ball across the face of goal. Britto lobbed it towards Uttam but the ball was cleared to safety before the latter could pounce.

East Bengal desperately searched for a winner in the dying minutes but the home side's defence held firm to share the spoils on the night.

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