Kochi: Churchill Brothers scraped past United SC in the inaugural match of the 35th Federation Cup football tournament here on Tuesday.
All the three goals came in the first half with Abdel Hamid Shabana (5th minute) and Balwant Singh (17th) scoring for Churchill while Ranti Martins (43rd) reduced the margin for United in the Group A match at the the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
In another match at Manjeri, the second venue, Dempo Sports Club came back from a goal down to beat Bhawanipore FC 2-1 at the MDSC Stadium.
Churchill Brothers, who were struggling badly in the season so far, surged into the lead as early as the fifth minute trough Egyptian recruit Shabana. The lead helped them seize the momentum early.
Balwant doubled th lead in the 18th minute. Both the goals came after Churchill Brothers` beat United`s off-side trap.
It could have been worse for United had not goalkepeer Jayanta Paul managed to palm Balwant in the 15th minute. On all three occasions, Churchill had sneaked in beating the off-side trap.
United`s goal came in the 43rd minute when Ranti Martins chested down Eric Brown`s floater, sidestepped Ravanan Dharmaraj and placed it past a diving Churchill Goalkeeper Lalit Thapa.
After the interval, United came back with much purpose and were the more dominating side. They preferred to play it in the gaps with Lalkamal Bhowmick and Eric Brown trying to feed CK Vineeth and Ranti upfront.
United had a flurry of chances but failed to break the deadlock. In the 67th minute, Eric Brown`s curler from just outside the 18-yard box failed to beat the Churchill Wall. Thapa`s reflexes further denied United when he palmed off Brown`s scorcher in the 82nd minute.
At Manjeri, second half strikes from Roberto Mendes Silva and Alwyn George sealed the match for Dempo after Bhwanipore had taken the lead courtesy a Dipendu Dowary fine strike.
If the first half belonged to Bhawanipore, the second session was Dempo`s.
While Alwyn George scored from close in the 66th minute, Beto curled in a freekick from the edge of the area 10 minutes later.
Much to the surprise of many who expected a lopsided encounter, Bhawanipore were the better side in the first half attacking through the wings and keeping the ball better in the middle of the park.
Receiving a pass from J Prasad, Dipendu Dowary cut inside and unleashed a venomous left-footer that swerved past Dempo custodian Laxmikant Kuttimani.
Dempo had few chances as they lacked teeth upfront. Arthur Papas brought in Alwyn George in place of Pronay Halder in the middle of the park to enhance his attacking options but still Dempo found their going difficult until the last few minutes of the opening session.
On the other end, Nabin Hela, who came in place of injured Jose Barreto, saw his snapshot fisted away by Kuttimani.
If you do well at Asian Games, then you get confidence of winning a medal at World Championships.