New Delhi : Defending champions Churchill Brothers kicked off their campaign in the 123rd Durand Cup in style, thrashing MEG, Bangalore 4-2 in the opening
quarterfinal league match at the Ambedkar Stadium here on Wednesday.
Okolie Odafe struck twice for the former I-League champions, while Bineesh Balan and Hardeep Singh scored a goal apiece for the Goans. Lokeshwar Singh scored both the goals for MEG, Bangalore.
Churchill Brothers started on a dominant note but were given a run for their money by the Bangalore-based outfit who twice reduced the deficit, after trailing by two goals in the
first ten minutes.
Odafe opened the scoring for the Goan giants as early as in the second minute heading in Israil Gurung`s corner, before Bineesh Balan doubled the Vincent Subramaniam-coached side`s lead in the 10th minute through a header off Zakeer M P`s cross from the right flank.
The reigning champions were, however, taken by surprise as Lokeshwar Singh pulled one back for the Bangalore side two minutes later.
MEG, Bangalore goalkeeper Sujith V, who had a tough time under the bar, fumbled a skier from Churchill Brothers rightback Hardeep Singh, to concede the side`s third goal of the match in the 16th minute.
But MEG once again reduced the deficit with Lokeshwar finding the net for his second goal.
Jiten Metei, who was one of the star performers in the qualifying round, provided the cross from the left flank for Lokeshwar to complete a clean goal.
MEG came close to level scores at the start of second half but Lalit Thapa pulled off a great save from N Guarangi Lal`s drop volley from the top of the 18-yard box.
MEG were down to ten men in the 80th minute, when goalkeeper Sujith V brought down Churchill`s Cameroonian striker Ernest Emako inside the box. The goalkeeper was shown
the red card before Odafe converted from the spot without any difficulty.
In tomorrow`s matches, Garhwal Heroes will take on Sporting Clube de Goa in group C, before Air India face Salgaocar in a group D clach.