I-League final day, Highlights: Minerva Punjab defeat Churchill Brothers FC 1-0 to win their first title

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I-League final day, Highlights: Minerva Punjab defeat Churchill Brothers FC 1-0 to win their first title
  • 17:38 (IST)

    Congratulations to Minerva Punjab FC on their maiden I-League title!

    That's it from us for today. Hope you enjoyed our coverage. Thanks for following along. 

  • Chencho takes time to walk over and sign autographs for kids who shout to get his attention

  • 17:14 (IST)

    Here's how the I-League 2017-18 season ends:

    1. Minerva Punjab 35 points (C)

    2. NEROCA FC 32 points

    3. Mohun Bagan 31 points

    4. East Bengal 31 points

  • Even though the trophy presentation will be on the 11th, the players are over the moon and in the absence of champagne, they resort to spraying water everywhere.

  • The Minerva players walk over to their fans to thank them for their support! 

  • East Bengal players have walked out from the field. But NEROCA players remain applauding the small set of fans in the stands. The team from Manipur may not have won the title, but they have certainly made a lot of admirers all across the country. 

  • FT in Kolkata.

    It ends in a 1-1 draw but it doesn't matter as Minerva have beaten Churchill Brothers to be crowned new champions of India.

    Players of both East Bengal and NEROCA lie down on the ground in disappointment knowing there will be no winners' medal for them. Both teams gave it their all but there was no separating them.

    NEROCA finish a proud second, while East Bengal have to settle for fourth place in the table, behind Mohun Bagan on head-to-head.

  • 17:04 (IST)

    Minerva Punjab are the new I-League champions!

    First title for the Chandigarh-based club as they win 1-0 against Churchill Brothers to ensure that they finish on top of the table with 35 points. 

  • Minerva counting down the minutes!

    Every punt up the field is being cheered by Minerva fans. They are doing everything they can to spur their team.

  • The referee has signalled for six minutes of added time but don't think there were enough stoppages in play to warrant this much time.

    To use one of  Sir Alex Ferguson terms, it's squeaky bum time for Minerva. 

  • With their first I-League title less than 5 minutes away, the club officials at Minerva are putting up a thin safety tape to prevent fans from staging a pitch invasion. Don't think it'll hold up though.

  • The Salt Lake Stadium has come alive.

    The crowd are sensing an East Bengal win and with the Minerva game still in the balance, there is still hope among the East Bengal faithful. NEROCA are struggling now and the Red and Golds have the wind in their sails.

  • 16:46 (IST)

    Live table at 80 minutes:

    1. Minerva Punjab 35 points

    2. NEROCA FC 32 points

    3. Mohun Bagan 31 points

    4. East Bengal 31 points

  • Big chance for Minerva!

    Minerva break away with speed with William going on a lung bursting run through the Churchill midfield. He spots Chencho's excellent run but he scuffs his lines and Churchill clear quickly. Should have been 2-0 to Minerva.

  • GOAL! East Bengal equalise to make it 1-1. 

    Dudu Omagbemi gives the East Bengal fans some hope at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata!

    East Bengal are level and this goal may mean very little to them but a hell lot to Minerva Punjab who now have a cushion. 

  • How did he miss that?!

    Britto manages to beat Minerva's offside trap and get on the end of a through ball. Kiran does well to rush out and make himself big to narrow down the angle and saves the shot.

  • 16:31 (IST)

    Churchill Brothers playing so much better in the second half

    They are looking to attack but haven't been able to capitalise yet. 

    Reminder - If Churchill score, given how things stand, NEROCA will be crowned champions. 

  • Kiran Kumar with an absolute howler to give Churchill a golden opportunity to equalise.

    Kiran's "clearance" is hit straight at Israil Gurung, whose pass finds Dawda Cessay. Cessay tries a curler and the ball kisses the crossbar on its way out.

  • Desperate times for East Bengal.

    Khalid Jamil throws in Kromah in place of Jobby Justin. His pre-game change clearly hasn't worked and now he hopes to fix it. Just a reminder that East Bengal have come from behind on more than one occasion in big games, so this game is far from over even though NEROCA have been better from what they were in the first half.

  • 16:24 (IST)

    Here are how things stand after 60 minutes

    In Panchkula: Minerva Punjab FC 1-0 Churchill Brothers FC

    In Kozhikode: Gokulam Kerala 1-1 Mohun Bagan

    In Kolkata: East Bengal 0-1 NEROCA FC

  • What a chance that was for Churchill!

    Minerva are caught ball watching as Britto finds himself unmarked at the far post but hits the ball straight at the Kiran in goal. Churchill also make their second change as Frincis, who was booked in the first half, is replaced by Bektur Uulu.

  • After two insipid corners, Akash Sangwan swings in a dangerous cross at the far post and Chencho rises highest but his flick narrowly misses the far post. 

  • Second half begins and there are massive appeals for handball as Dudu is tackled inside the box. But the referee waves away the appeal. It's turning out to be a very frustrating afternoon for East Bengal this. Can they turn this around?

  • And we're off in the second half here at Chandigarh and Minerva attack straight away. Another long throw causes panic in the Churchill box but William's header floats wide harmlessly.

  • 16:11 (IST)

    Second half underway!

    If Minerva continue to hold on to their lead, they will be crowned I-League champions for the 2017-18 season. 

    Another way to look at it - NEROCA Fc are one Churchill goal away from clinching the trophy. 

    We are all set for another exciting 45 minutes to close this intriguing I-League season. 

  • Half-time in Chandigarh 

    Half time here at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium and Minerva deservedly have the lead. They should have been 3-0 up though. William with two excellent chances in added time. Churchill have barely troubled Kiran Kumar and they look destined to go down unless they can spark a remarkable fightback in the second half.

  • 15:56 (IST)

    Half-time update

    In Panchkula: Minerva Punjab FC 1-0 Churchill Brothers FC

    In Kozhikode: Gokulam Kerala 1-1 Mohun Bagan

    In Kolkata: East Bengal 0-1 NEROCA FC

    As it stands, Minerva will be I-League champions! 

  • Live table at HT

    1. Minerva Punjab 35 points
    2. NEROCA FC 34 points
    3. Mohun Bagan 31 points
    4. East Bengal 30 points

  • Half-time in Kolkata. 

    NEROCA lead after suffering for most parts in this half. East Bengal had a host of chances to open their scoring but their inefficiency at both ends has been severely punished.

    However, with Minerva leading in Panchkula, NEROCA's lead matters little. Big second half to follow

  • Yellow for Frincis

    Frincis sees yellow as he clatters into goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu. Meanwhile, NEROCA have scored against East Bengal.

  • NEROCA lead!


    After being under the cosh for the entire game so far, NEROCA have taken the lead in Kolkata. A catastrophic piece of defending from the home side allowed Felix Chidi to score a simple goal.

  • Minerva go close 

    Minerva go close to doubling their lead through Chencho but Ricardo Cardozo gets down quickly to block the shot. The Bhutanese forward has begun imposing himself in the game now and along with Akash Sangwan, are Minerva's best players this half.

  • A MISS in Kolkata!

    Jobby Justin misses an open goal after NEROCA goalkeeper Lalit Thapa misjudges a cross, allowing it to fall to Justin who was six yards out. Minutes later Mahmoud Al Amna hits his shot straight at Thapa after being clear on goal

    East Bengal are not going to get any closer to the title if they continue to waste chances. Many have gone begging so far.

  • East Bengal in trouble

    Now that Mohun Bagan are leading, East Bengal could face a nightmare scenario if Churchill Brothers equalise against Minerva. In that case, a win for East Bengal will hand the title to their arch rivals Mohun Bagan

  • 15:40 (IST)

    Churchill substitution

    An early change for Churchill here. Visalie Mezhu is replaced by Jovel Martins.

  • Mayhem in Chandigarh now

    And things have gotten a bit heated here. Eric Dano isn't happy with Frincis sticking close to him and shoves him away. The referee is quick to intervene and the players are separated. The fans have taken out the vuvuzuelas. 

  • Ugly scenes at Panchkula

    And it hasn't taken long for the Minerva players to have a go at the referees. Kasim Haidara is livid after a throw in is given the other way. He gets a warning from referee Rahul Gupta.

  • LIVE table after 28 minutes

    1. Minerva Punjab 35 points
    2. Mohun Bagan 33 points 
    3. NEROCA FC 32 points
    4. East Bengal 31 points

  • A party in Chandigarh

    Churchill go close to equalising but Francis' deflected shot rolls past the post. Meanwhile, the dhols are out and the crowd has gone crazy here.

  • Sombre reception to Minerva's goal in Kolkata

    I guess the news of the Minerva goal has hit the East Bengal fans. The noise levels have suddenly gone down a bit even though their team are on top in this game.

    NEROCA struggling to cope with the pace and guile of East Bengal's attack

  • 15:25 (IST)

    LIVE TABLE after 21 minutes

    1. Minerva Punjab 35 points
    2. NEROCA FC 32 points
    3. Mohun Bagan 31 points
    4. East Bengal 31 points

  • Minerva lead 1-0

    GOAL! William Asiedu slams it from close range and Minerva have the lead. A mix-up between Meitei and Osagie Monday allows Chencho to take a shot. Cardozo spills it and after Girik Khosla's balls is blocked, William is there at the far post to put the ball in net.

  • 15:20 (IST)

    15th minute update

    In Panchkula: Minerva Punjab FC 0-0 Churchill Brothers FC

    In Kozhikode: Gokulam Kerala 0-0 Mohun Bagan

    In Kolkata: East Bengal 0-0 NEROCA FC

  • Teams jostling at the start for control

    Neither team has been able to impose themselves in the opening minutes. Minerva have resorted to hitting long passes towards Chencho but the passes have either been overhit or too high for the Bhutanese forward to control it.

  • East Bengal on the prowl

    Lively start from East Bengal, who are using the width of this massive Salt Lake pitch to their advantage. NEROCA have spent most of the early exchanges defending deep. 

    The visitors appear a bit rusty after that big 20 day gap since their last game 

  • 15:07 (IST)


    And we're off, in Kozhikode, Kolkata and Panchkula.

  • The teams are out and the East Bengal fans are making their presence felt. A minute's silence will be observed to pay tribute to former NEROCA skipper Mohammad Sohail Shah. 

  • The teams are out warming up in Panchkula

  • 14:48 (IST)

    Minerva faithful seem to be thronging the stadium

  • Scenarios for NEROCA to be champions

    NEROCA WIN, Minerva Draw/Lose

    NEROCA must win their game against East Bengal to have any chance of winning their first ever I-League title.

    If they beat East Bengal and Minerva fail to win, NEROCA will be champions 

    Mohun Bagan's game will have no impact on NEROCA's fate today

The 2017-18 I-League season will head towards the final showdown on Thursday with four teams — Minerva Punjab FC, Mohun Bagan, NEROCA FC and East Bengal — fighting for the title. At Panchkula’s Tau Devi Lal Stadium, Minerva will host relegation-threatened Churchill Brothers FC secure with the knowledge that they are the only team in the mix who do not have to depend on the result of other matches if they secure all three points against the visitors.

The I-League trophy

The I-League trophy

While an outright win will guarantee them the title, even a draw or a loss may still see them through provided the other two outcomes in Kolkata and Kozhikode go accordingly.

It will also be a do-or-die game for Churchill Brothers as they battle for survival in the top division of Indian football.

Meanwhile, football giants East Bengal and debutants NEROCA FC will look to secure a victory at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan while hoping other results go in their favour in order to capture the title.

East Bengal are desperate to end their 14-year title drought, having last won the tournament in the 2003-04 season, when it was called the National Football League (NFL). Placed fourth in the points table with 30 points, East Bengal will have to first beat NEROCA and then hope table-toppers Minerva Punjab FC (32 points) don't triumph.

Arch-rivals Mohun Bagan, placed third with 30 points, must also not win at Gokulam Kerala FC as they have a better head-to-head record against East Bengal.

The equation is slightly simpler for second-placed NEROCA (31 points), who must ensure they first emerge victorious against East Bengal and then hope Minerva do not win against Churchill.

Published Date: Mar 08, 2018 17:00 PM | Updated Date: Mar 08, 2018 17:38 PM

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