A brace by Japanese midfielder Katsumi Yusa helped Neroca FC catapult to the second spot, ending Churchill Brothers’ unbeaten record in the I-League with a 2-1 victory in Imphal on Saturday.
Man of the Match Katsumi scored in the first and 87th minute. With this win, Neroca FC is placed second in the table with 14 points, three shy of table toppers Chennai City FC.
The hosts began in orange while Churchill Brothers were in their away sky blue kit. Neroca FC showed their attacking intention right from the kick off.
A wrong clearance from Churchill Brothers’ Mohanraj inside the box landed straight into the legs of Areyn Williams, who made a beautiful cross back into the box, which was well received by Katsumi.
Katsumi then made an outstanding diving header to guide the ball back into the opposition net, putting the hosts ahead in only the 15th second of the game.
The goal changed the game completely as Neroca FC went on an attacking spree with the hope of a second strike.
Churchill Brothers, on the other hand, played a cautious game but slowly started coming back to their attacking ways.
Neroca, who were attacking in quick successions did trouble the Churchill defence but the visitors’ back line stood their ground.
Churchill finally managed to restore parity when a beautiful free kick from Dawda Ceesay was headed in by Kahlid Aucho in the 37th minute.
The game thereafter was a mixed bag of attacks from both ends but neither of the teams managed to extend their lead.
The second half began with Neroca trying to get the lead but a defensively strong Churchill Brothers FC Goa denied them any clear chance. The hosts did come close enough to extend their lead but could as Churchill Brothers’ goalkeeper James Keethan made an outstanding save off a shot from Felix Chidi in the 61st minute.
In the 87th minute, Katsumi completed his brace through a header that came off an inch-perfect cross from Aryn Williams, giving the hosts three points.