Churchill scrape past Air India in I-League

Pune: Churchill Brothers secured full points from their match against Air India and placed themselves in a perfect position to threaten fellow Goan rivals Dempo in the race to the top in the I-League football championship.

Captain Roberto `Beto` Silva scored on second rebound following a free-kick in the 30th minute and that was enough for Churchill to hang on and win 1-0 at the Balewadi Sports Complex ground Thursday.

Churchill now have 33 points with a game in hand, one point behind East Bengal and seven off leaders Dempo. Air India stays at 24 points from 18 matches.

Both teams missed the services of their first choice strikers Henry Antchouet and ND Opara for Churchill and Henry Ezeh and Takayuki Omi for Air India.

Air India, nonetheless, found some cracks in Churchill defence and sneaked in, but the home team`s finishing was not up to the mark. Sandeep Sangha`s sent at least four wayward shots from the top of the box after he was handed a golden chance in the ninth minute.

Churchill`s goal was set up when Balan took freekick that landed behind the wall and on second rebound, Beto pounced on the chance and let the ball stroll into the post.

In second half, Air India showed some urgency to find an equaliser. But without Takayuki and Henry, they really struggled. Manandeep was a revelation as he created at least three chances in the second half but failed to get support upfront.

Churchill`s Roberto Silva was the man-of-the-match.