Brazilian midfielder Roberto Mendes da Silva opened the scoring with a seventh minute penalty and then Gabonese striker Henri Arnaud scored once in each session to take Churchill Brothers to the top of the table with 42 points, two ahead of East Bengal. Churchill still have a match in hand.
Churchill got off to an encouraging start when Steven Dias won a penalty in the seventh minute. Bineesh Balan’s wonderful ball in the danger zone was well received by Dias, but he tumbled into the zone after coming into contact with Air India defender M Pradeep, prompting the referee to point at the stop.
Roberto scored the penalty with ease.
Churchill got their second in the 22nd minute when Lenny Rodrigues sent a delightful through ball that pierced the rival defence and was intercepted well by Henri who drew out the goalkeeper and scored another easy goal.
In the second session, Churchill scored their third goal through the boots of Henri, and it was another gift from Air India; goalkeeper Sukhvinder Singh to be precise. A regular back pass should have been easily collected but instead the goalkeeper and Rahul Bheke looked at each other allowing Henri to tap inside an open goal.
Air India had plenty of chances to get something out of their game but the visitors lacked the sharpness upfront. Nigerian striker Henry Ezeh had two clear chances but he aimed straight at goalkeeper Sandip Nandy’s body while Micky Fernandes’ two booming freekicks missed the target narrowly.
Air India’s body language was also not positive as, at times, they simply appeared to go through the motions, allowing Churchill an easy passage towards three points.
Churchill next play ONGC in Delhi and has a chance to open up a five-point gap at the top of the table.
(Courtesy: AIFF Media)