How the I-League's dramatic final day unfolded

I-League Final Matchday LIVE Minerva Punjab are a win away from sealing a maiden title

I-League Final Matchday LIVE Minerva Punjab are a win away from sealing a maiden title

The 2017-18 I-League season will head towards the final showdown on Thursday with four teams - Minerva Punjab FC, Mohun Bagan, NEROCA FC and East Bengal - fighting for the title.

Minerva thus became the first team from Punjab to win the title since the 1996-97 season when now defunct JCT claimed the inaugural National Football League (NFL), which was later re-christened as the I-League. Coming into Thursday's game, Minerva had won five matches and drawn one match at home with two losses - against East Bengal and Gokulam Kerala.

"Minerva Punjab FC got in touch with me last month and they wanted me to train the team". Placed fourth in the points table with 30 points, East Bengal will have to first beat NEROCA and then hope table-toppers Minerva Punjab FC (32 points) don't triumph.

Asier Pierrick Dipanda of Cameroon finished top scorer of the league with his 12 goals for Mohun Bagan, including one on the final day.

For a club that is only in their second season in top-flight, the achievement is huge.

That's exactly how the I-League has shaped up, despite being handed the tag of the "second division" of Indian football (the Indian Super League is the primary competition now).

Two-time champions Churchill Brothers, meanwhile, have been relegated.

Minerva's attacking trio of Chencho Gyeltshen, William and Girik Khosla combined well to put Churchill's defence in jeopardy. After 22 years, we have brought the title to Punjab.

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- Chencho nearly scored the match's opener in the eighth minute when a low Girik Khosla cross wasn't dealt with properly. Ceesay took a long shot in 54th minute but Kiran was there to save comfortably.

Although Chencho, Minerva's Bhutanese sensation had found the back of the net in the 8th minute of the game, the champions had to wait till Opoku converted from point-blank range.

League powerhouses Bagan were not able to find the winning goal and eventually finished third with 31 points.

East Bengal will rely on their Nigerian ace Dudu Omagbemi, who scored a brace to rescue a point against Lajong FC.

Both teams pushed for a victor towards the dying minutes of the match but with Minerva not winning their game, the motivation also seemed lacking.

"I am responsible for East Bengal's performance".

NEROCA needed Minerva to lose and win their own tie against East Bengal, which too were in the same position and that game ended at 1-1.

The title looked wrapped up a few days ago but leaders Minerva Punjab's shocking defeat to Chennai City once again left the race for the silverware tantalisingly poised.

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