Mahindra, Churchill have it easy in Durand

August 29th, 2008 - 10:25 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 29 (IANS) Defending champions Churchill Brothers and runners-up Mahindra United won their opening Durand Cup quarter-final league games convincingly here Friday.Churchill gave the newly promoted Mumbai FC a taste of what to expect in the I-League, beating them 3-1, while Mahindra overpowered a spirited Army XI 3-0 in the two Group II matches on a hot and humid afternoon at the Ambedkar Stadium.

Mahindra, even without star midfielders Steven Dias and N.P. Pradeep, didn’t encounter much resistance from Army XI as Mohammed Rafi (38th), Edeh Chidi (41st) and Dohou Pierre (52nd) scored the three goals.

But the scoreline does not reflect the spirit with which the Armymen played. They had the first shot at the goal as early as in the sixth minute, but Subhasish Roy Chowdhury came up with a brilliant save as Lal Dingliana’s right-footer was power-packed.

Army XI, however, lacked a good striker and surprisingly coach Raghanvendra Singh did not think of playing Santosh Trophy hero S. Raeleng till the last quarter of an hour.

Chidi was well marked, but still the burly Nigerian managed to breakthrough and sneaked in sliding to score the second goal after Rafi’s header off a flag-kick gave them the first goal in the 38th minute. It was a big relief for Mahindra who were trying to break free from intense Army pressure. Chidi’s goal came off a measure Paresh Shivalkar pass.

After the breather, Mahindra grew in confidence and when D. Ravanan darted into the goalmouth he was brought down. Referee O.P. Thakur had little hesitation in pointing to the spot and Ghanian Pierre put it past past Army goalkeeper Robikanta Singh.

Later in the day, Churchill, with no big names in their line-up, showed that they are shar enough to defend their title with prolific Nigerian striker Odafe Onyeka striking a brace (32nd, 43rd) and Savio Monteiro (71st) adding one to the tally.

Mumbai FC, playing their first major national tournament, started on a positive note with right-half Aseem.K combining well with forward Abhishek Yadav to harass the Churchill defence.

Aseem’s poor finishing was the result of his lack of experience as he dodged the rugged Chruchill defence, time and time again but just couldn’t get a proper shot or part with the ball in time for Yadav to join the action.

Mumbai FC, however, were lucky to reduce the margin in the 75th minute as Aseem was fouled in the box and experienced Noel Wilson converted the penalty.

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