Football

I-League 2017-18: Minerva creates history to become the first team to win the title from North India

[caption id="attachment_63931" align="aligncenter" width="580"]28741059_1364573200356013_479801291_n Minerva Punjab FC wins their maiden I-League title. Image Source: Hotstar[/caption]

XtraTime Web Desk: Minerva Punjab creates history to become the first team ever from North India to become the champions of Hero I-League in the 2017-18 season. The team from Punjab scored the winner in the 15th minute ofr the game as William Opoku made it 1-0 for his team.

The match got off to a feisty but sloppy start with both teams giving away possession cheaply. But Mineva soon took charge of the game and Akash Sangwan saw a left-footed half-volley parried away by Ricardo Cardozo in the 13th minute.

Two minutes later, Minerva surged into the lead, capitalising on a nervous Churchill defence. After Monday Osagie missed a clearance altogether, Chencho made his way into the box down the right hand side and saw his shot spilled by the Churchill goalkeeper Cardozo. Sangwan followed up but saw his effort deflected to William Opoku who tucked it home from point-blank range.

Churchill Brothers, finding the going very hard in attack, took off Visalie Mezhu and sent on Jovel Martins. But Minerva continued to dominate proceedings and Chencho saw a shot saved by Cardozo before William Opoku went close just before half-time.

William won the ball from Plaza before feeding Khosla out wide on the left. He collected the return ball in his stride before easing past Monday Osagie into the area. But his eventual shot was blocked by Cardozo as score remained 1-0 in Minerva’s favour at the break.

After the break, Churchill came out of the blocks with more intent and forced Kiran Limbu into action. Dawda Ceesay saw a long-range effort saved by the Nepali goalkeeper before he found some space on the edge of the area around the 60th minute. But his left-footed shot sailed just over.

Minerva were left hanging at times as Willis Plaza and Dawda Ceesay began to impose themselves. In the 65th minute, Plaza slipped Jovel Martins through on goal but his effort was parried by Limbu.

The best chance for Churchill to pull a goal back came in the 74th minute when centre-back Eldor headed over from a corner from close range.

Ranjit Bajaj’s team showed amazing spirit and character till the end to put up a stellar effort to protect their winning goal to script history.

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