Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, February 14
RoundGlass Punjab FC defeated Chennai City FC 2-0 to displace Churchill Brothers on the summit of the Hero I-League points table today. The match was played at Kalyani Municipal Stadium in Kalyani, West Bengal, on Saturday.
The side is now at 14 points in eight games — one point ahead of the Red Machines, who have played one game less.
The game opened with fast end-to-end football, but both sides were unable to get their efforts on target. The earliest opening came in the 8th minute for Chennai City as Iqbal saw Punjab custodian Kumar off his line. However, his shot was blocked by the Punjab defence. The game died down in the next couple of minutes due to an early injury to Iqbal, forcing Satyasagara to change him with Elvedin Skrijelj.
Punjab created the first big opening of the game in the 18th minute. Chencho flicked a long ball over his marker and forced a brilliant save from Chennai City’s Kabir Toufik. Both teams settled down and kept fighting hard in the middle of the park for possession, as Punjab were more penetrative and kept knocking Chennai City’s goal.
In the 33rd minute, Chencho latched on to Aphaoba’s cross from the right wing. But the Bhutanese striker could not power his tame header past Kabir Toufik. Demir Avdic had an opening in the 36th minute, but the Chennai City striker skied his attempt from Sriram’s cut back. Three minutes later, Diawara met Joseba Beitia’s cross, but the striker’s header failed to trouble the Chennai goalie.
The side kept pushing and reaped rewards in the 43rd minute. Souvik Das’ cross found Diawara just outside the six-yard box. The Senegalese held off a challenge from Tarif Akhand and volleyed his effort past a stranded Kabir Toufik. Chennai City sought an immediate reply through a free kick. Substitute Elvedin Skrijelj’s cross from distance was met by Demir Avdic, who yet again failed to hit the target. As a result, Punjab went into half-time with 1-0 lead.
Chennai later created a rare opportunity to equalise in the 59th minute. Demir Avdic won the ball off a defender before breaking in the box and sending a bullet strike towards goal. However, Kumar produced a magnificent save, ensuring his side’s lead was safe.
The game suddenly turned end-to-end. A minute later, Chencho broke from the following corner and sent in a cross for Diawara, who was inches away from slotting the second goal. In the 65th minute, Elvedin pounced on a weak clearance, but his shot from outside the area went straight into the hands of the keeper.
With the clock ticking, Chennai created another opening in the 80th minute, with Avdic curling his effort towards the top corner. However, the Nepalese custodian pulled off another magnificent save to deny the Serbian.
In the 84th minute, Diawara latched on to Beitia’s corner, but his header whiskered over the goal. It did not matter much though, as finally, Curtis Fleming’s team scored four minutes later. Aphaoba Singh broke on the counter, latching on to a long pass from Beitia, before sending in a dipping shot. Toufik saved the shot but sent the rebound into the path of substitute Rupert Nongrum, who made sure he remained onside and duly put the ball into an empty net.
It was the last action in the game, as Curtis Fleming’s side won 2-0 in the end and displaced Churchill at the top of the Hero I-League standings.
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