Churchill Brothers surged to the top of the I-League ladder for the first time after securing a comfortable 6-0 victory over Shillong Lajong FC in a tenth round I-League encounter at the Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, on Saturday.
The comfortable victory helped Churchill take their tally to 23 points, two more than Dempo Sports Club, who have a match in hand against Air India on Sunday.
Gabonese striker Henri Autchouet scored a second half hat-trick, his first in the competition. Brazilian midfielder Roberto Mendes da Silva had earlier opened the scoring with a penalty in the 29th minute before Lalrindika Ralte made it 2-0 almost immediately.
After the change of ends, ND Opara added his name to the scoresheet before Henri joined the party with a hat-trick of goals.
Churchill were a far superior side and it was evident early in the game, when the hosts controlled the proceedings amicably and Lajong gave away the ball far too easily.
After Beto and Henri had missed in quick succession, Churchill surged just before the half hour mark, when Beto won a penalty after being tripped inside the danger zone by Wailadmi Passah. Beto made no mistake from the spot.
If Churchill’s opening goal was fortunate, there were no doubts about the second. Lalrindika grabbed a ball just outside the box and majestically curled a shot into the top corner of the nets.
The opening session saw Churchill add two quick goals. At first, Opara played a nice one-two with Henri before finding the back of the net and then Henri got on to the right end of Lalrindika’s through ball to make it 4-0.
What seemed bad going for Lajong got worse in the 62nd minute when Churchill won another penalty and goalkeeper Soram Anganba was flashed the red card for a tackle on Lalrindika. Substitute goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte stood confidently between the posts and saved Opara’s subsequent penalty.
A few minutes later, though, Lalthuammawia could do nothing as Henri was allowed a free run inside the box to hammer Churchill’s fifth goal.
The Gabonese striker completed his hat-trick ten minutes from the end after he gave finishing touches to a through ball from Steven Dias.
Chirag United Kerala 2-1 Prayag United SC
Chirag United Kerala produced their first home win of the season as they defeated Prayag United SC in a tight encounter in the tenth round of I-League at the University Stadium, Trivandrum.
David Sunday's brace was the stand out performance of the day, while Yusif Yakubu reduced the deficit for the away side.
Nizam Packeer Ali handed Usman Ashik with his first start in his career, relegating his first choice winger Shahbaz Saleel to the bench. David Sunday and Anil Kumar partnered the attack for the home side, while Prayag were without their Captain Lalkamal Bhomwik in their long trip to Kerala, who was replaced by Jayante Sen in the starting eleven.
It was all Chirag United Kerala in the first two minutes of the game, and they could have been three goals ahead if the young Ashik had taken all the opportunities he had received infront of the Prayag goal.
It was Chirag who took the lead in the 45th minute improvising on a mistake by Arnab Mondal whose back pass to keeper was intercepted by David Sunday, who lifted over Abhijit into the goal, for his first goal. The teams went into half time with Chirag in the driving seat.
Prayag found the equaliser immediately after the start of the second half. Chirag defence was unable to negotiate with Sukhan Dey's long throw into the box which fell to Yakubu to tap in, his seventh goal of the season.
The match seemed to be turning in the away team's favour as the second half progressed, until Sunday again made use of a mistake from Arnab to score the winner for Chirag.
The goal came as a breather for Chirag United as they were struggling to earn points, despite playing well in the previous matches.
The win earns them eight points from ten matches. This was the last match for Chirag at Trivandrum. Now, they will take on
Kingfisher East Bengal at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi.