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JCT edge past EB to finish second
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May 19, 2007 20:01 IST
Last Updated: May 20, 2007 12:48 IST

JCT defeated East Bengal 3-2, while Churchill Brothers scored an emphatic 4-1 victory over Air India in the final round of matches in the 11th ONGC National Football League on Saturday..

JCT thus finished second while Churchill placed fourth.

Mahindra United took third place with 30 points form 18 matches. [See League table].

Nigerian striker Edeh Chidi scored a brace while Sunil Chhetri scored the third goal for JCT. Boniface Ambani and Ashim Biswas scored for East Bengal.

George Ekeh (26th, 80th) and Odafe Okolie (30th, 50th) found the back of the net for Churchill while Paresh Shivalkar reduced the margin for Air India in the 89th minute.

Dempo, who were crowned champions, received a cash prize of Rs 40 lakh, while JCT and Mahindra United, who came second and third, got Rs 22 and Rs 18 lakhs respectively.

JCT, who had an edge for most of the match, started in whirlwind fashion and went ahead in the fifth minute through striker Chidi, whose fine showing won him the man of the match award.

The lead was, however, shortlived as East Bengal drew level six minutes later through Ambani (1-1).

JCT, who combined well in the midfield, went ahead again in the 30th minute when Chhetri smartly headed home a Harish Sharma centre (2-1).

Inspired by the lead JCT sharpened its attack and Chidi struck again in the 34th minute (3-1), this time capitalising on a pass from Baljit with a snap shot.

After the breather the red and yellow brigade played with renewed vigour, desperate to score goals. But they were successful in only reducing the margin when striker Asim Biswas scored following a pass form Nabi. His left-footer from outside the box found the net. (3-2).

Air India, who made early forays into the rival area, had a couple of scoring chances but Sanju Pradhan failed to capitalise on those as he drove the ball over; later, Bashiru and Paresh Shivalkar shot straight into 'keeper Vinay Singh's hands.

Churchill slowly settled to a rhythm and drew first blood in the 26th minute. From the left, Khanthang Paite's pass to Geroge Ekeh resulted in a goal as the latter neatly tapped the ball into the net.

Four minutes later, Nigerian striker Odafe Okolie, who was on par with Ranty Martins with 16 goals, increased the lead, beating 'keeper Raju Ekka with a firm grounder off a free-kick taken by Zenith Genius.

Okolie, who is the only player to score a hat-trick in this tournament -- against Mohammedan Sporting, completed a brace five minutes after resumption to win the golden boot award for his tally of 18 goals.

In the 80th minute, Ekeh completed the rout when he scored on the run after getting the better of two rival defenders off a pass from Genius Zenith.

Paresh Shilvalkar pulled one back for Air India a minute before the final whistle.

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