I-League: Plaza strike downs East Bengal, takes Churchill Brothers to table top

Willis Plaza emerged the hero as his 90th-minute header powered Churchill Brothers to a 1-0 win over East Bengal, and to the top of the I-League table.

Willis Plaza's (C) goal earned Churchill Brothers a 1-0 win over East Bengal in the I-League on Saturday.   -  Twitter @ILeagueOfficial

Willis Plaza emerged as Churchill Brothers' hero as his 90th-minute header powered the side to a 1-0 victory over East Bengal and to the top of the I-League table.

The win took Churchill's tally to nine points from four games, while East Bengal dropped to the third spot with eight points from five matches. The game looked like meandering towards a draw but Plaza struck his fourth of the season after coming close on at least three occasions earlier in the game.

The opening half saw the visiting side dominate proceedings initially, but Churchill slowly worked its way back into the tie. East Bengal earned five corners compared to Churchill’s one in the first half-hour. Juan Mera had a great chance to put East Bengal ahead in the 23rd minute when he was played into the box courtesy of a delightful through ball, but he blazed his attempt over the crossbar. Plaza had a couple of chances too, but failed to convert, as the first hand ended goalless.

Plaza had another fine chance in the 62nd minute but missed from close range. East Bengal nearly took the lead with five minutes on the clock when Martin Crespi’s thunderbolt strike from distance rattled the Churchill bar and a minute later Espada missed the target from a lay-off from Jaime Santos Colado.

The turning point of the match came in the 90th minute when substitute Israil Gurung curled a lovely cross into the box towards Plaza, who rose above his markers to slot the ball home. The win secured Churchill's third win of the season and subjected East Bengal to its first loss of the campaign.

TRAU, Punjab play out goalless draw

Earlier on Saturday, TRAU FC played out a goalless draw with Punjab FC at the Khuman Lampak Main Stadium.

TRAU created its first chance of the game in the 17th minute but that was not enough to threaten the Nepal captain Kiran Limbu.

In the 30th minute, Sanju’s shot was blocked by the opposition custodian which could have broken the deadlock. Seven minutes later, TRAU made a counter-attack but Abhishek Das couldn’t find the back of the net as his shot went way above the bar as the first half ended with a 0-0 deadlock.

TRAU lost the possession early in the second half as the Warriors launched a series of attacks from both the flanks with some threatening passes into the box but none of them were capitalised.

The two teams walked off with a point each. TRAU is at the bottom of the table with two points from five matches, while Punjab is second with nine points from six matches.

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