Minerva Punjab FC created history by becoming the first team from North India to win the I-League title. William’s goal was enough to seal the title for Minerva Punjab who beat Churchill Brothers by a solitary goal today. This is a landmark moment in Indian football where two teams threatened with relegation have won back-to-back I-League titles. Last year it was Aizawl and this year it is Minerva Punjab from Chandigarh.
Churchill Brothers, on the other hand, got relegated to the 2nd division.
Minerva Punjab started the first half really well. The attacking trio of Chencho, William and Girik combined really well to put Churchill’s defence in jeopardy. Chencho almost scored the match’s opener in 8th minute when a low Girik Khosla cross wasn’t dealt with properly by Monday which gave Chencho a chance but he couldn’t make full use of it. Minutes later Akash Sangwan had an opportunity to score from left but his shot went straight into the keeper who blocked well. The moment finally came in 16th minute when William converted from point-blank range after a rebound from Girik’s shot which fell right into his feet. William had another exceptional chance in the injury time of first half but couldn’t control his effort and lost possession.
The first half ended with the home side leading 1-0.
The second half started with a flurry of attacks from Churchill Brothers who tried their best to come back but got unlucky on many occasions. In the 49th minute, Akash Sangwan’s pinpoint corner kick met Chencho header but his effort went just wide off the target. Churchill Brothers almost scored in the 51st minute when Britto got a chance from just six yards, but in vain. Ceesay took a long shot in 54th minute but Kiran was there to save comfortably.
Monday tried his luck in 59th minute but his wayward short was nowhere near the target. The big chance for Churchill came in 61st minute when Ceesay created space inside box to set himself for a shot but ball just went over the crossbar.
Minerva should have doubled their lead in 64th minute when Kassim played one two with Chencho, but Chencho’s instead of giving a cross to Sangwan, who was unmarked, went out for a goal kick.
In 65th minute Britto missed the opportunity of the match so far when he went one-on-one with keeper Kiran but Minerva keeper came out quickly to save his side.
In another show of combination play, Chencho was brilliantly set up by William in 73rd minute in the box but he decided to cut inside and in doing so lost the ball possession.
Minerva centre back Eric Dano got a chance in 80th minute when he took a shot after a deflected corner kick but his shot was nowhere near target.
Bali Gangandeep got a chance to get his name on the scoresheet but his weak effort didn’t trouble the keeper. Minerva Punjab FC won the match and were crowned Champions of India in a historic moment for Indian Football.