Churchill outplay HAL 4-1, storm into Durand Cup quarter finals

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New Delhi, Oct 30 (UNI) Riding on skipper Odafe Onyeka Okolie's four goals, including a hat-trick, Churchill Brothers, Goa, outplayed Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bangalore, 4-1 to storm into the quarter-final of the 120th Osian's Durand Cup football tournament here today.

Okolie struck in the 16th, 57th, 79th and 86th minutes while Bimal Minz found the target for HAL in the 65th minute in a pre-quarterfinal match at the Ambedkar Stadium.

Churchill, who were directly seeded into the pre-quarter finals, were the stronger side and dominated most part of the match except for a brief period in the second session.

Chandam Chitrasen marshalled the midfield well for the Goans and supplied enough ammunition for striker Okolie and Mboyo Iyomi to rattle the HAL defence.

After some fine moves and missed chances, Churchill surged ahead with Okolie being fed by Iyomi inside the box and the former blasted a powerful right footer past goalkeeper Gumpe Rime into the goal (1-0).

Okolie and Iyomi got a few opportunites in the later part of the first half, but HAL goalkeeper Gumpe Rime made a couple of fine saves to save his side from further damage and go for the breather with just one goal down.

After resumption, it was the same story with Churchill finding the cushion 2-0 lead with Okolie converting a penalty kick earned by himself. Iyomi supplied the ball from the left and Okolie was brought down by Sumit Thapa and referee Pratap had no hesistation to point towards the dreaded spot.

Okolie had to take the spot kick twice as his first attempt which though beat goalkeeper Gumpe Rime was disallowed since he took it before referee's whistle.

The Nigerian, however, did not make any mistake and placed the ball to the right of Gumpe Rime into the net in his second attempt (2-0).

Churchill's offensive did not relent even after 2-0 lead and seven minutes later, Iyomi's neat right footer after a defensive lapse rebounded after hitting the crosspiece.

HAL then sprung a surprise by making the scoreline 2-1 against the run of play. Right back Ragui Singh sent a fine pass which saw captain Xavier Vijay Kumar free on the right flank and his pass found Bimal Minz slamming the ball on the run past an onrushing Churchill goalkeeper Vinay Singh.

Churchill were again denied by the woodwork in the 69th minute when Iyomi chested down an Okolie cross from the right flank but hit the crosspiece.

Okolie had a fine chance to score again from Naoba Singh spadework whose flighted pass found Okolie free on top of box and the Bangalore players were shouting for an offside which the referee turned down.

Okolie beat the goalkeeper but his left footer in front of the goal was blocked by a desperately trying defender.

Ten minutes before the final whistle, Okolie scored his and Churchill's third goal, this time also Bangalore players paying the prize for resorting to offside trap.

Naoba Singh was the supplier again and his aerial ball inside the box was neatly placed home by his captain Okolie past the goalkeper.

Not content with his hat-trick, Okolie added to the woes of HAL with another strike four minutes from time.

In other pre-quarterfinal match, Central Railways beat Tata Football Academy (TFA) 5-2 in penalty shootout after the two sides were locked 1-1 after the regular and extra times.

Soccor Velho put the Central Railways ahead in the 27th minute but Gautam Kujur equalised in the 47th minute.

In the penalty shootout, four players from Central Railways scored while only one from TFA found the target.

Churchill and Central Railways will now meet in the quarter-final on November 3.

UNI

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