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I-League: Neroca, East Bengal play out 1-1 draw

IANS  |  Kolkata 

debutants Neroca FC held city giants East Bengal to a 1-1 draw in a crunch last-round match here as league leaders FC beat relegation-threatened Brothers to win the title on Thursday in Panchkula.

(42nd) gave Neroca the lead with Dudu Omagbemi (73rd) equalising but to no avail in the end at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan.

East Bengal needed to beat second-placed Neroca and then hope table-toppers FC (32 points) don't triumph against relegation-threatened Brothers.

Arch-rivals also had to not win at Gokulam as they have a better head-to-head record against East Bengal.

But at Panchkula, Minerva saw off 1-0 to bag their maiden title defying all odds while were held to a 1-1 draw by Gokulam at Kozhikode.

East Bengal thus finished fourth in the points table with 31 points, same as who ended third owing to better head-to-head record.

Neroca (32 points) finished second while were relegated.

Neroca, on their part, needed Minerva to lose in order to harbour hopes of winning the league for the first time.

The visitors made three changes to their starting XI from the last game. Lalit Thapa, Nicholas Ward, and came in place of Bishorjit Singh, injured Gouramangi Singh and suspended Aryn Williams.

East Bengal ringed in as many as six changes from their 2-2 draw against Shillong Lajong. Samad Ali Mullick, Arnab Mondal, Eduardo Ferreira, Mohammed Rafique, Yami Longvah, and replaced Mehtab Singh, Salam Ranjan Singh, Gurwinder Singh, Cavin Lobo, Brandon Vanlalremdika, and

The first chance of the match fell to Neroca when Subash Singh dribbled inside the box but his meek effort was easily collected by East Bengal keeper Ubaid C.K.

At the other end, Syrian midfielder found the side-netting after Yusa Katsumi set him up from a short free-kick.

In the 15th minute, at Panchkula, Minerva took the lead riding Willaim Opoku's goal denting East Bengal's charge.

The Red and Golds then got three gilt-edged chances but Dudu spurned couple of them while Justin put too much on the shot with a wide-open net in front of him.

also missed a good opportunity to take the lead as the Khalid Jamil-coached side saw matters going from bad to worse for them when Neroca took the lead.

Chidi outfoxed inside the area after being fed by Australian At halftime, the hosts trailed 0-1.

Just after the break, East Bengal appealed for a penalty when Dudu's shot struck the hand of a Neroca defender, but referee waved play on.

Dudu then came close to equalising but smashed wide of the far post. The 32-year old finally atoned for his flurry of misses by heading in Lalram CHullova's cross after the hosts exchanged four passes.

Both teams pushed for a winner towards the dying minutes of the match but with Minerva not winning their game, the motivation also seemed lacking.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, March 08 2018. 17:16 IST