I-League: Defending Champs Churchill retain top spot
Kolkata: Churchill Brothers remain in pole position after a 2-2 draw with Mohun Bagan at Vidyasagar Krirangan, Barasat on Friday afternoon. Star foreigners Odafa Onyeka Okolie and Jose Ramirez Barreto each scored a brace for their respective sides.
Mohun Bagan had a decent opening as early as the eight minute when Barreto latched on to an Ishfaq Ahmed pass but the Brazilian failed to hit the target.
A minute later though, Churchill scored through Odafa, when the Nigerian headed in a Dan Ito freekick from close range.
Bagan did not get disheartened by the goal as they kept dominating possession and put pressure on the Churchill defence.
The Kolkata side were reaching the final third comfortably but were only able to win corners instead of testing Churchill keeper Arindam Bhattacharya.
However one such flag kick did pay off in the 32nd minute when Barreto found the back of the net after a good delivery by Marcos Pereira.
The Mariners continued to see the ball more while Churchill’s only attacking threat was skipper Odafa. Karim Bencherifa’s team had a fantastic chance to take the lead just before halftime but Edeh Chidi wasted the opportunity.
The home side started the second half also strongly and won a penalty when Arindam Bhattacharya fouled Japanese medio Ryuji Seoka. Barreto stepped up to take the spot kick and made no mistake to score his second of the game.
Bagan deservedly were in front but champions Churchill were never out of the contest and should have leveled the scores in the 68th minute but Dan Ito missed the target.
Two minutes later, the Goan side won a freekick in a promising position and inevitably Odafa scored with a curling effort.
A few minutes later Bagan had a strong penalty appeal when Chidi was brought down in the box but referee waved play on.
The Kolkata giants were desperate not to drop points as they kept trying for the third but the Churchill defence were finishing the match strongly.
Three minutes before the 90, substitute Tomba Singh sent in a good cross into the box but Chidi could only head it over the bar.
Eventually both teams had to settle for one point which keeps unbeaten Churchill at the top and three points clear of Mohun Bagan, who remain in fifth place.
Goalscorers: Odafa Onyeka Okolie (Churchill Brothers) 9’, 70’, Jose Ramirez Barreto (Mohun Bagan) 32’, (pen) 50’
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