Churchill Brothers beat reigning champions Aizawl FC 1-0 in Goa on Tuesday thanks to a 21st-minute strike from Mechac Koffi.
Suraj Singh returned from injury to replace the injured Richard Costa in midfield in what was the only change in the home side's first 11. Bektur Talgat continued ahead of Kalu Ogba with Dawda Ceesay and Mechac Koffi in the attack.
Lalram Hmunmawia replaced Lalhriatrenga who got injured in the 1-1 against Chennai City. Albert Zohmingmawia and F. Liandala Sena's inclusions in place of David Lalrinmuana and Lalthathanga Khawlhring in the other two changes.
Nicholas Fernandes' header from Harshad Naik's cross went wide early one before Yugo Kobayashi's goal from an Andrei Ionescu flag kick was ruled offside on the other side in the fifth minute.
Churchill goalkeeper James Kithan was up to the task to deal with Ionescu's delivery in the box when Leonce Dodoz stole the ball in the midfield, but it was mostly the hosts in attack otherwise.
The deadlock was broken in the 21st minute as Nicholas' got around Laldinliana and swung in a cross from the left towards Koffi who was totally unmarked between the two centre-halves. The Ivory Coast forward finished it with a simple tap-in.
The Red Machines should have been up by two goals at the break. Ceesay attracted his marker alongside and gave a backheel pass to Israil Gurung who moved into the box but scuffed his opportunity to score before his intended square towards Koffi was blocked out by C. Lalrosanga.
The hosts had a half-chance four minutes after play resumed. Dhenechandram Meitei's long throw-in was flicked back by Koffi but the former sent a hasty first-time volley wide.
Alfred Fernandes would have complained a denied penalty in the very next minute. Saighani was guilty of bringing down Koffi who was the last man with the ball in front of the goalkeeper. However, referee Pratik Mondal looked the other way to the claims.
In the 68th minute, Nicholas could have turned the provider with an inch-perfect cross from the left to Koffi a second time in the game but the latter's touch wasn't good enough to beat Avilash in goal.
Referee Pratik Mondal was surrounded by red shirts in the 80th minute when Lalrosanga had pulled down Ceesay just outside the box while the Gambian diving inside the box. Ceesay himself stepped up to take the resultant free-kick that went over. However, Aizawl were pulled down to 10 men with the centre back flashed a direct red.