I-League: Chennai City stuns table-topper Minerva Punjab

Minerva Punjab, which has 32 points, will play its last home match against Churchill Brothers in a must-win encounter for both sides.

Chennai City FC's Aleksandar Rakic (shirt No. 9) slots home the winner against Minerva Punjab.   -  M. Periasamy

You lose your last match 1-7, you are staring at relegation and you are facing the table-topper in what is your final game of the season. What do you do in such a situation?

If you are Chennai City FC, you play some delightful football and score one of the biggest shocks of the I-League. With its splendid 2-1 victory over Minerva Punjab, the host ensured that it gave its loyal fans – more than 7,000 of them were there on a pleasant Friday night at the Nehru Stadium -- plenty to cheer about and remember before it signed off.

It indeed was a remarkable comeback by the Chennai men after their crushing defeat to East Bengal at Kolkata just a few days ago. They looked keen to attack right from the beginning and their talented captain Soosai Raj didn't waste any time before finding his touch.

He put his team ahead in the fifth minute, off a splendid cross from the right by Edwin Vanspaul; his header was pushed away by goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu but he slotted the ball home off the rebound.

But, Punjab equalised in the 26th minute through Chencho Gyeltshen, who drove the ball firmly into the roof of the net after receiving an excellent long ball from Souvik Das to score his seventh goal of the season. Chennai City didn't allow itself to be rattled too much, and continued to attack.

Fifteen minutes into the second half, it went ahead again. The scorer this time was the Serbian forward Rakic, who had a great game. He finished off a swift move orchestrated from deep inside Chennai's own half by Pradeep Mohanraj and Soosai, who would later be named Man-of-the-Match.

Minerva tried desperately to salvage a point, with even its custodian playing as a striker towards the close. But the equaliser never came.

Minerva, however, still tops the table with 32 points, one more than Neroca, while Chennai is eighth with 19 points.