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Churchill pips Tollygunge 3-2

Last updated on: February 21, 2004 22:02 IST

Undaunted by a two-goal deficit at the breather, Goa's Churchill Brothers staged a brilliant comeback to snatch a 3-2 victory over Tollygunge Agragami in a thrilling eighth National Football League match in Kolkata on Saturday.

Ghanian striker Yusif Yakubu scored a brace to draw level and Noel Wilson struck the winner for the visitors after Tollygunge had taken a 2-0 lead through Akeem Abolanle in the opening half at the Salt Lake stadium exchange.

The Goans, who looked a pale shadow of themselves in the first session and conceded a seemingly unassailable lead, changed the complexion of the game drastically in latter part and culled three points from the away match.

With this win, Churchill improved their tally to 21 points from 12 matches while Tollygunge still face relegation with only 10 points.

The Kolkata outfit, however, had an impressive start and drew first blood in the 24th minute when Akeem, fed by a long pass from medio Sandeep Das, cashed in on a defensive lapse, raced into the rival box and slotted home past an advancing Churchill custodian Mark Mascarenhas. The Churchill defenders apparently thought that Akeem was trapped off-side.

Barely ten minutes later, Tollygunge pumped in the second goal from a free-kick by Jiten Rai. This time, Mascarenhas played spoilsport as he misjudged the ball, which went to Akeem via Habib Ali. Akeem made no mistake in finding the target from close.

With a two-goal lead, Tollygunge fell victim to complacency and fatigue in the second half while Churchill renewed their efforts and changed strategy that delivered spectacular results.

Churchill coach Marcus Pacheco introduced Noel Wilson in the midfield and withdrew Riston Rodrigues to the defence to assist the lethal combination of Yusif Yakubu and Benjamin upfront.

The strategy paid off well as Wilson netted the winner after Yakubu's double strike.

The Ghanian broke the ice from a set piece in the 56th minute after Churchill bagged a penalty when Tollygunge's Sandeep Das handled a Rajesh Metei shot inside the box.

Even before Tollygunge could weather the offensive, Yakubu, the top scorer in last two editions of NFL, restored parity through a gem of a goal in the 61st minute.

The lanky striker, who got a loose ball from compatriot Benjamin atop the penalty arc, wasted no time and fired a volley following a sudden turn that sneaked into the net past Tollygunge goalkeeper Samit Debnath.

Both the teams, thereafter, engaged in an exciting duel, making frequent forays into each other's territory till the visitors had the last laugh when Wilson's 30-yard right footer stunned Debnath and the hosts barely a minute before the long whistle.

Tollygunge coach Krishnendu Roy expressed his dismay at the way his wards squandered the opportunity to bring home full points. The Kolkatans are now only above city rivals Mohammedan Sporting and Indian Bank in the points tally.

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