I-League: Neroca wins seven-goal thriller to break Punjab FC jinx

Phillip Adjah scored a match-winning hat-trick (4' 37' 82') to guide NEROCA FC to a 4-3 win over Punjab FC at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal.

NEROCA FC and Punjab FC played out a seven-goal thriller in Imphal.   -  Special Arrangement

It rained goals in Imphal as NEROCA FC pipped Punjab FC in an entertaining 4-3 win in their I-League clash at the Khuman Lampak Stadium on Tuesday. 

The match got off to a blistering start. In the fourth minute, Sergio Barboza’s menacing run was read by Himanshu Jangra, who made himself available for a pass with an overlapping run. Jangra picked out Dipanda Dicka inside the box, who had a crack first time but was denied by the crossbar.

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Phillip Adjah broke the deadlock a minute later when Neroca caught Punjab napping on the counter. Jiteshwor Singh led the charge and found Imran Khan to his left. Khan played Adjah through on goal.

Punjab FC soon equalised through Dipanda Dicka, who scored his 50th I-League goal. Sanju Pradhan ran the length of the pitch before squaring across goal for Dicka, who made no mistake in slotting the ball home.

In the 37th minute,  Kiran Limbu’s wayward pass was picked out, which put Adjah through on goal again. Danilo couldn’t recover in time, and Adjah restored Neroca’s advantage heading into the break.

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Near the hour mark, substitute Girik Mahesh Khosla scored a spectacular volley to  bring Punjab back to level terms for the second time in the match

Yumnam Raju made matters worse for the visitor, after he picked up a red card for a second bookable offence. The Ludhiana outfit failed to recover from thereon. Neroca soon raced to a 4-2 lead, courtesy of an own goal from Punjab’s Danilo and shortly afterwards, Adjah’s third of the evening, earning him the match ball for a match-winning hat-trick. Dicka converted a penalty in the 86th minute, but the host held on for the remainder of what was a nervy finish.