Ludhiana: Minerva Punjab made a great start to their I-League campaign with a closely fought 2-1 win against debutants Neroca FC in their second home match at the Guru Nanak Dev Stadium, in Ludhiana on Friday. Bhutanese Chencho Gyeltshen scored the opening goal for the home team before Lago added a second to bring up the win. Felix Chidi scored the lone goal for the away side.
Energetic and fresh from a fine second division I-League win last season, Neroca started the match brightly troubling the Minerva defence with their pace and intensity. Goalkeeper Arshdeep was called into action early in the third minute, when Chidi’s shot moved towards before the custodian dived at full stretch to keep the scored intact. For the first 20 odd minutes, it looked although the away side might just walk away with the win but ‘Punjab Lions’ soon began to settle and may have well taken try lead in try 26th minute, but Neroca denied Chencho from scoring.
Nonetheless, the debutants took the lead two minutes later, when Chidi scored a fine solo goal after making a brilliant run from the left-channel.
Their joy was however short-lived as Minerva soon restored parity six minutes later through Chencho, who dribbled past both the defenders and the goalie before placing his ball into an open goal. The aspiring ‘Ronaldo’ nearly made it 2-0 minutes later, coming one on an one with the goalkeeper, but failed to keep it in.
It was towards the brink of the first-half, when a cross from Abhishek found Lago in the box and the tall forward made no mistake from four yards slotting it home as Minerva went into the break 2-1 on the scoreline.
The second-half was more about Minerva defending deep, while Neroca attacked in numbers. The away side looked desperate for a goal and came close on quite some occasions, but failed to convert the resulting shot into a goal.
Meanwhile, the ‘Warriors’ almost made it 3-0, when Chencho dribbled past the two defenders but hit the upright. Minerva, then thwarted all attacks to emerge out victorious.
Courtesy, the win the home side also moved to the top of table from with four points from two matches.