Churchill draw Persipura 1-1, stay afloat for pre-quarters
Margao: Churchill Brothers kept themselves afloat for a knock-out round berth in the AFC Cup after playing out a 1-1 draw against Persipura Jayapura on Indonesia in their penultimate group match here on Wednesday.
After a barren first half, Persipura Jayapura, who held better ball possession in both the halves, took the lead in the 77th minute through Boaz Solossa which was cancelled by Churchill Brothers Balwant Singh in the 84th minute in the Group E match played at Nehru Stadium at Fatorda.
Churchill Brothers, who kept the pressure in the dying minutes, have themselves to blame for not winning the match as Balwant Singh missed two golden opportunities to score the winner.
The draw takes Persipura Jayapura into the next round as they took their tally to 11 points from five matches with a match against Home United of Singapore at hand.
Churchill Brothers took their tally to seven points from five matches -- the same as that of Home United -- but are placed second on head-to-head count. The group toppers and runners-up side qualify for the pre-quarterfinals.
Persipura Jayapura, who beat Churchill Brothers at the home leg, started on an attacking note as they moved the ball with quick short passes and made a series of moves from the right flank but could not penetrate into the rival defence.
Titus Bonai, who was the livewire in the middle, kept the attack moving and the visitors came up with close chances on a couple of occasions but Churchill Brothers keeper Lalit Thapa did well to block Daniel Siogama Tata and Imanuel Wanggai shot from close.
Churchill Brothers, who were forced to defend into their own half for the early part of the first half, got into their act later as they came up with swift counter moves but lacked the sharpness. The absence of Cristian Lagos was also felt.