Phillip Adjah stars as NEROCA FC edge Punjab FC
Phillip Adjah NEROCA FC Punjab FC I-League 2019-20
The Manipuri side edged the seven-goal thriller against Punjab

NEROCA FC continued their battle to avoid the drop as they beat Punjab FC 4-3 in an I-League 2019-20 tie at the Khuman Lampak Main Stadium on Tuesday.

Phillip Adjah (5', 37', 82') netted a hat-trick for the hosts who were also helped by an own goal by Danilo Quipapa (59') while Aser Dipanda (8', 87' pen) and substitute Girik Khosla (59') scored for the visitors. 

Gift Raikhan made wholesale changes to the NEROCA XI after a defeat against Real Kashmir as Dhananjoy Singh, Jiteshwor Singh, Rojen Meetei, Subash Singh and Khanngam Horam were handed a start.

Yan Law also made a few changes after a 1-1 draw against Indian Arrows by bringing in Yumnam Raju and Samuel Shadap.

Punjab had the better chances to score early on. Aser Dipanda went close as he struck the upright after Himanshu Jangra squared the ball for the Cameroonian in the fourth minute.

Aser Dipanda NEROCA FC Punjab FC I-League 2019-20

In the very next minute, the home side took the lead by hitting their opponents on the break. Imran Khan played a delightful through ball for Adjah who beat the keeper with a strike with the outside of his boot. 

Dipanda bagged his 50th I-League goal as Sanju Pradhan led the counter and put the ball on a plate for the striker who finished well against goalkeeper Bishorjit Singh.

Adjah was then allowed to go one-on-one with the Punjab goalkeeper and the Ghanian skipped past Chemzong and put his side back in the lead in the 37th minute.

NEROCA FC Punjab FC I-League 2019-20

Khosla, who replaced Himanshu Jangra in the 54th minute, scored with brilliant volley after Anwar Ali kept Sanju Pradhan's free-kick in play in the 59th minute.

Punjab's fight suffered a blow when Raju picked up his second booking in the 65th minute. The hosts reclaimed their lead 10 minutes later when Danilo headed a free-kick from Khan into his own net.

Adjah tore through the Punjab defence to complete his hat-trick in the 82nd minute but the drama didn't end there. Khosla was deemed to be brought down in the NEROCA box and Dipanda reduced the margin of defeat with a goal from the spot in the 87th minute.

The win takes NEROCA to the ninth position with 18 points from 16 games while Punjab (23 points) and East Bengal continue to fight for the second spot.

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