I-League 2017/18: Minerva Punjab FC vs Churchill Brothers, Player Ratings
The day of reckoning finally arrived in the I-League 2017/18 as the final league matches kicked off on a bright Thursday afternoon. Minerva Punjab FC hosted former champions Churchill Brothers at the Tau Devi Lal Football Stadium in Panchkula, Punjab.
As their fate lay in their own hands as opposed to the other contenders, the goal was simple enough for Minerva Punjab -- win the match, win the title. Minerva Punjab led the league standings with a total of 32 points from seventeen matches played before this showdown. The Goan side Churchill Brothers, on the other hand, were battling relegation as they started on the ninth spot on the table with just 17 points from as many matches and needed to win to stay up in the top division of Indian football.
In other matches, East Bengal took on NEROCA FC at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata and Gokulam Kerala FC hosted Mohun Bagan at the EM Stadium in Kozhikode.
Minerva Punjab FC carved out a hard-fought 1-0 win over the Goan side as William Opoku's first half goal led them to the I-League title.They have become the first north Indian club after JCT to win the top division of Indian football since 1996.
Here's a look at how the players fared in this match:
Minerva Punjab FC
Kiran Limbu (6.5/10) - The Nepalese international manned the goal for the Minerva Punjab side and had a fairly quiet half as Churchill did not threaten the goal. He was stable between the sticks for the home side.
Kamalpreet Singh (6.5/10) - The right-back was highly active on the flank, making runs up and down the left side. Kamalpreet combined well with players ahead of him and put in good crosses for the attackers inside the box.
Sukhdev Singh (6.5/10) - The defender, who has become famous for his deadly throw-ins into the box, partnered Eric Dano in the defence as they dealt well with the Churchill attack and did not allow them any space.
Eric Dano (7/10) - The Ivorian defender organized the Minerva defence from the back as they were up against the dual threat of Francis and Plaza. Dano was strong in his tackles and also a threat from the setpieces for the home side.
Akashdeep Singh (6/10) - The left-back for the Minerva side made a lot of overlapping runs as he was active on the left flank in both attack and defence.
Amandeep Singh (6/10) - The midfielder played just ahead of Aidara and did well to pass the ball around and was strong in his defensive contribution as well.
Kassim Aidara (6.5/10) - The Minerva skipper played the role of the defensive midfielder as he operated just in front of the defence. He made a lot of crucial interceptions and did well to stop Churchill attacks from developing.
Akash Sangwan (6.5/10) - The midfielder played on the left side behind the attackers as he made a lot of runs on the flank. He was on corner duty for the home side and was replaced in the second half when Abhishek Ambekar came in.
William Opoku (7.5/10) - The Ghanaian youngster opened the scoring for Minerva when he slotted in an easy finish into the open goalmouth after a fumble by the Churchill keeper. He was constantly a threatening option in attack for the Punjabi side and did well with a lot of chances on the Churchill goal.
Girik Khosla (6.5/10) - The youngster played centrally in the attack for the home side as the target man up front. He made good runs into the box as he kept the Churchill defence on their toes.
Chencho Gyeltshen (7/10) - The Bhutanese winger was highly active on the left flank for Minerva and his shot led to the first goal for the home side. He kept threatening the Churchill goal with his runs into the box and put in good crosses for his fellow attackers.
Abhishek Ambekar (4.5/10) - The youngster came in to replace Akash Sangwan on the flank as Minerva made the first change of the match.
Bazie Armand (4.5/10) - The former East Bengal man came in to replace the goalscorer William Opoku as Minerva added some defensive cover with Churchill looking threatening in the midfield.
Bali Gagandeep (4/10) - The striker came in for the final five minutes of the match to replace Girik Khosla in the attack.