Stellar strike from Spaniard Juan Quero Barraso helped defending champions Minerva Punjab FC register a 1-0 victory over Imphal-based Neroca FC in a Hero I-League match at Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Haryana’s Panchkula on Saturday.
With Saturday’s win, Minerva Punjab FC jumped to the seventh spot in the points table leapfrogging Aizawl FC, Gokulam Kerala FC and Indian Arrows, reports Business Standard.
While Chennai City is on the top of the points table with total 37 points, Minerva Punjab FC is in the 7th position with 17 points.
However, despite their defeat on Saturday, Neroca FC is in the 5th position of the points table with total 26 points.
According to the report, Saturday’s match result ends Minerva’s frustrating winless run after 80 days.
The Punjab-based team registered the last win against Quess East Bengal in Kolkata on December 4, 2018.
On Saturday, Minerva Punjab FC coach Sachin Badadhe opted for a strong attacking line-up with under-18 Elite Youth League star Makan Chothe, Prabhjot Singh, Mahmoud Al Amna and Quero starting in advanced positions.
Kalif Al Hassan, a debutant, anchored the midfield along with Amandeep Singh as the Minerva Punjab FC dominated proceedings from the kick-off.
In the seventh minute of the game, Akash Sangwan had an early chance when he found space in the left-flank but his cross was gathered with ease by Neroca FC goalkeeper Lalit Thapa.
In the 21st minute of the match, Amandeep had a great chance to open the account for his team Minerva Punjab FC after being played in by Amna but his shot narrowly missed the post.
Syrian midfielder Amna of Minerva released a powerful shot after some neat footwork from Quero but it didn’t worry Neroca keeper.
Moinuddin of Minerva finished a good low cross from Chothe but the referee reckons that it was offside.
There was sustained pressure from the visitors but the Warriors’ defence held firm.
In the 43rd minute, Neroca’s closest chance came when Subash Singh found his way through an array of Minerva defenders. However, for the visiting side, he could not find the back of the net.
A closely-fought first half of the game came to an end without any goal.
Though the Warriors dominated most parts of the half but Neroca had their chances in the counter.
With the start of the second half, the visitors notched up the intensity as Chencho Gyeltshen, Katsumi Yusa and Aryn Williams all missed chances to take the lead. However, Minerva dominated the proceedings after 15 minutes.
The hosts almost took the lead when Chothe’s dangerous cross was converted by second-half substitute Moinuddin Khan.
However, the midfielder was adjudged offside by the linesman.
The Warriors did not have to wait for long as Moinuddin’s great ball control in the left wing allowed him to create space and send in a low cross to Quero, who showed remarkable control to find the back of the net in the 68th minute.
Minerva Punjab FC will now face Quess East Bengal in their last home fixture on March 3, 2019 while on the same say, Neroca will travel to Kozhikode to face Gokulam Kerala FC.