Mahindra United beat Churchill to lift Durand CupSeptember 7th, 2008 - 10:39 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) An extra-time goal by substitute Thoi Singh helped Mahindra United beat defending champions Churchill Brothers 3-2 in an exciting title-clash and add a third Durand Cup title to their kitty here Sunday.In what turned out to a repeat of last year’s final, Churchill Brothers had the first strike with Roberth Lalthlamuana striking in the 12th minute. But a brace from Nigerian striker Edeh Chidi (20th, 32nd) gave lead to the Mumbai outfit. The match moved into extra-time after Savio Monteiro struck with just three minutes left for the final whistle.
Mahindra had the last laugh when the winner from Thoi (99th) helped them take sweet revenge of the last year’s defeat.
Mahindra also broke a six-year wait to lay their hands on the coveted title at the flood-lit Ambedkar Stadium here.
Right from the start, Mahindra showed intent and could have taken the lead as early as in the fifth minute when Izumi Ararta had only goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya to beat but shot wide. Six minutes later, Chidi again stretched Bhattaracharya but his well-directed shot kissed the far post on its way out.
Mahindra, however, found them at the receiving end in the very next minute when Lalthlamuana, playing for the first time in the tournament, sneaked into the defence to hold onto a clever cross by Ogba Kalu Nnanna and dodging past two defenders, shot past a hapless Shubhasish Roy Chowdhury to give Churchill the lead.
Mahindra attack with Chidi and Mohammed Rahi looked well and coach Derek Pereira’s decision to start with Rafi, in place of Sushil Singh, paid dividends.
Rafi with his speed and agility made some quick moves inside the box to keep the Churchill defenders busy while an unmarked Chidi kept on lurking for a chance in the box.
Their persistence paid-off in the 20th minute when Chidi broke free and headed in the equaliser from Douhous Pierre’s free-kick. The Nigerian was again found the target when he slotted from close range after a freekick by Pierre.
With time ticking by, it seemed Mahindra were on course for a an easy win but Churchill stepped up the pedal in the last 20 minutes and the Odafe-Lalthlamuana combine kept the Mumbai outfit’s defenders busy.
Odafe missed an chance in front of an open net but atoned for it when he freed himself from a tangle and his pin-point cross from the back-line was headed in by Monteiro to take the match to the extra-time.
In the first half of the extra time, substitute Thoi, who was left unmarked, guided Ajayn’s cross into the net to give Mahindra the Cup.