Churchill lift maiden Durand Cup

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New Delhi, Nov 7 (UNI) Churchill Brothers won their maiden Durand Cup title after a hard fought 1-0 victory over Mahindra United in the final here today.

Churchill hung on to an 11th minute strike by skipper Odafe Onyeka Okolie and survived repeated onslaughts by Mahindra in second session to emerge winners at Ambedkar Stadium.

The win was Churchill's first major title in a national top level competition and for Mahindra, it was the back to back defeat in a final after they lost to East Bengal in the Federation Cup in September.

The finale to the 15-day long tournament, however, did never rise to great heights and most of the exchanges eneded without having a clear look at the goal.

Churchill dominated the first session while the Mumbai side were the overwhelming better side in the second session.

Okolie, the tournament'a highest goal scorer with 10 strikes to his credit before today's final, scored the only goal of the match when the Mahindra defence was caught napping early in the tie.

Churchill midfielder Bernardo Pires sent a wonderful pass from the centre line which went past Mahindra defenders Sushant Mathew and Ravanan Dharmaraj for Okolie to collect it neatly just outside the box.

The Nigerian then ran a few paces and fired powerful right footer which went past an advancing goalkeeper Sandip Nandy into the net.

Even after conceding an early goal, Mahindra, which had scored only one goal in the tournament, could not penetrate the Churchill defence led by India central defender Gouramangi and it was rather the Goan side who made threatening moves through Okolie and Mboyo Iyomi.

Mahindra regrouped in the second half which was overwhelmingly dominated by them. Churchill was defending althrough the second session by crowding in their box.

In the 69th minute, after an exchange of fine passes between Yusuf Yakubu and Steven Dias, Krishnan Ajayan collected the ball in front of goal but his left footer after rounding off a defender missed the left post by a whisker.

Mahindra's best chance came five minutes later when Manjit Singh booted in a Yakubu corner from the right only to be saved by Churchill goalkeeper Vinay Singh from the goal line.

In the last quarter of the hour, Derrick Pereira's boys sent the ball inside the Churchill box repeatedly but the Goan defence of Gouramangi, Govin, Naoba Singh and Robert Lathlamuan did a fantastic job to deny the experienced Mahindra forwards any openings though they had to survive some tense moments.

UNI

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