Minerva Punjab are I-League champions

AIFF investigating claims of match-fixing in I-League

Minerva Punjab FC are the only team amongst the four who don't depend on any other outcome to triumph the league if they secure all three points against the Red Machines. The permutations were plenty in case Minerva slipped up in their match as East Bengal FC, NEROCA FC and Mohun Bagan all were potentially contenders for the title till the final whistle on March 8, 2017. The goal strangely made NEROCA sit back a bit more - perhaps the debutants realised that losing this match would effectively mean losing their chances of finishing second. On Thursday, Minerva Punjab FC created history by becoming the first team from north India to win the coveted trophy in its current avatar - the tournament was rechristened as I-League in 2007 - and their success nearly mirrors that of last year's winners Aizawl FC.

William Opeku Asiedu netted the all-important goal in the 16th minute as the Punjab side won its maiden I-League title.

This is a landmark moment in Indian football where two relegation-threatened teams had gone on to win the I-League in successive years. After 22 years, we have brought the title to Punjab.

Churchill Brothers, on the other hand, got relegated to the second division.

Chencho nearly scored the opener in the eighth minute when a low Khosla cross wasn't dealt with properly by Osagie Monday, giving the Bhutanese ace a chance, but he couldn't make full use of it.

William had another exceptional chance in the injury time of the first half but he couldn't control his effort and lost possession. They beat Churchill Brothers 1-0 to finish atop.

- In the 49th minute Akash Sangwan's pin point corner kick met a Chencho header but his effort went just wide of target.

Ceesay took a long shot in the 54th minute but Kiran was there to save comfortably.

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Minerva centre back Eric Dano got a chance in 80th minute when he took a shot after a deflected corner kick but his shot was nowhere near target.

Churchill nearly scored in the 51st minute when Britto got a chance from just six yards out but his weak effort was saved.

With the I-League heading for a photo-finish in a four-way title race, East Bengal will count on home advantage against Neroca FC in their last-gasp bid to win the elusive trophy on Thursday. Previously I had worked with East Bengal in 2009-2010 and it was a big challenge to train a group.

Arch-rivals Mohun Bagan, placed third with 30 points, must also not win at Gokulam Kerala FC as they have a better head-to-head record against East Bengal.

East Bengal were on the front foot from the offset and Dudu's shot in the 22nd minute troubled NEROCA's defence.

Their top-scorer Chenco Gleyshten (7 goals) had suffered a dip in form but he buckled up and scored the only goal in their defeat against Chennai.

William Opoku's first-half strike handed Minerva the win against Churchill. To put it into context, NEROCA lost 4 games throughout the season, while EB and Bagan lost three each.

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