I-League 2017-18: Churchill Brothers 2-1 Minerva Punjab: Struggling Goans upset table-toppers
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The Red Machines leapfrogged three spots on the league table as they thwarted Minerva's five-match unbeaten run...

Relegation candidates Churchill Brothers recorded a shock 2-1 win at home over 2017-18 I-League leaders Minerva Punjab at the Tilak Maidan Ground in Vasco, Goa on Friday.

Winter transfer window recruits Koffi Mechac (17' P) and Wayne Vaz (45) scored in the first half. Kassim Aidara (57') replied with a goal around the hour-mark but Chencho Gyeltshen squandered a chance to equalise from the spot in the 61st minute.

Alfred Fernandes made three changes from the side that lost 1-0 against NEROCA FC on Tuesday. Bektur Talgat, Nicholas Fernandes and Harshad Naik came in place of Kalu Ogba, Britto PM and Uttam Rai who got injured in the last game.

On the other hand, Khogen Singh brought in Moinuddin Khan and Abhishek Ambekar in place of Souvik Das and Deepak Devrani in the lineup that held East Bengal to a 2-2 draw in their last game.

In the first real chance for the hosts in the third minute, Nicholas' cross from the left reached Koffi in the centre but his first touch was poor, allowing goalkeeper Kiran Limbu to collect the ball.

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Chencho Gyeltshen Churchill Brothers Minerva Punjab FC I-League 2017/2018

Osagie Monday's two-footed sliding tackle on William Opoku inside the Churchill box has the Minerva players up in arms but Referee Akash Jackson Routh awarded a goal-kick. At the other end, the referee awarded a penalty when Sukhdev Singh was deemed to have fouled Koffi in the box.

Koffi stepped up to send Limbu towards the wrong side and to give Churchill the lead in the 17th minute.

Chencho Gyeltshen's free-kick came off the wall in the 24th minute and ten minutes later,  Eric Dano's swipe at goal from close range was blocked by Hussein Eldor.

Churchill Brothers Minerva Punjab FC I-League 2017/2018

Wayne Waz' attempted cross looped over Limbu and hit the net at the stroke of half-time to send shockwaves through the spine of the table-toppers.

The visitors upped the ante after the restart and fought back into the game in the 57th minute when Kassim Aidara controlled Chencho's freekick into the box from the left and blasted the ball into the roof of the net to make it 2-1.

Moments later, it could have been 2-2 but Chencho sent his penalty wide after Wayne was punished for a handball inside the Churchill box.

Khogen Singh made two changes as he brought in Lago Bei in place of Girik Khosla, who had earlier come on for Moinuddin. As a result, he sacrificed Limbu and brought in Rakshit Dagar in order to maintain the ratio of foreign players to Indian players. 

Churchill Brothers Minerva Punjab FC I-League 2017/2018

Opoku, who had forced a save from Kithan from a free-kick in the first half, sent another powerful direct free-kick just above the crossbar as the game move towards the full-time whistle.

Churchill had an incredible opportunity to put the game to bed when Koffi surged forwards on a counter-attack at the stroke of full-time. The Ivory Coast striker released Nicholas into the box but the winger saw his shot blocked from close range.

The home side held on in the final few minutes to cause an upset as the referee brought the intense affair to an end. 

 

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