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Leaders Minerva stumble against Churchill Brothers

VASCO: This was a strange game, with an even stranger result. Churchill Brothers halted Minerva Punjab FC‘s superb run in the I-League with a 2-1 victory at the Tilak Maidan in Vasco on Friday.

This was only Minerva’s second loss in the I-League but still keeps them at the top of the table with a six-point advantage over East Bengal. With six matches left to be played, including five at home, Minerva are still the overwhelming favourites to win what will be an unlikeliest of titles but the loss against Churchill should set the alarm bell ringing.

Minerva were found wanting in the opening 45 minutes when Churchill scored twice. The first was a Penalty from the boots of Koffi Mechac and the second a fluke from Wayne Vaz that Nepal goalkeeper Kiran Limbu failed to read. Minerva, probably inspired by some strong words from their owner Ranjit Bajaj – also doubling as manager, who lined up water bottles for the players to drink from the dugout – pulled a goal back through Kassim Aidara in the 57th minute, but star man Chencho Gyeltshen, also known as CG7 for his obsession with Cristiano Ronaldo, missed a penalty minutes later.

The miss proved costly for Minerva in the end. Churchill stuck to their task and did not offer their rivals a second chance. They themselves should have killed the game with two late counter attacks but, like most part of this campaign, they lacked sharpness upfront. The result will, of course, surprise many. Churchill are fighting to save the drop and came into this game with a home loss against Neroca FC.

Minerva are the high-fliers whose title hopes were getting clearer with every game. Three points should have been a formality but Churchill proved they were as good if not better than anyone else in the competition, never mind their five losses in a row at the start.
Minerva rarely impressed. From giving away the ball cheaply at the start to conceding an unwanted penalty, the visitors never played like champions in waiting. To be fair, they should have had an early penalty but, at least initially, they were nervy and probably a bit overconfident too.
Churchill punished them by taking their chances. Koffi won a penalty and converted it himself in the 17th minute when Sukhdev Singh needlessly brought him down.
If that didn’t wake them up, the goal at the stroke of half-time surely did. Right-back Wayne tried floating a ball inside the box and it somehow sailed past the stranded goalkeeper into the top corner of the net. Source : timesofindia



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Leaders Minerva stumble against Churchill Brothers

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