RoundGlass Punjab FC 3 (Luka Majcen 27’, Chencho Gyeltshen 55’, Juan Mera 80’) defeat Churchill Brothers Goa 1 (Martin Chaves 84’)
PANCHKULA: RoundGlass Punjab took a step closer to claiming the Hero I-League 2022-23 trophy after securing a 3-1 victory over Churchill Brothers at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. The victory allowed them to open up a five-point gap over second-placed Sreenidi Deccan, and with just two rounds to go, Staikos Vergetis’ side can clinch the title with a win over Rajasthan United on Saturday.
RoundGlass Punjab’s Chencho Gyeltshen set up Luka Majcen to open the scoring for the home team in the first half, and then doubled the lead early in the second half with a goal of his own. Gyeltshen then turned creator again, assisting Juan Mera to add a third goal just before Martin Chaves scored a consolation for Churchill Brothers.
Right from kick-off, the hosts displayed their intention to dominate the match and created back-to-back opportunities. Mohammed Salah made a darting run on the left wing in the second minute to find Brandon Vanlalremdika who took a heavy touch, but it was followed by a move where Juan Mera picked out captain Luka Majcen with a lobbed pass. The Slovenian, however, sent his header straight at Churchill’s goalkeeper Nora Fernandes.
After withstanding the initial onslaught, Churchill Brothers found some rhythm and started to create chances. In the 11th minute, Emmanuel Yaghr unleashed a powerful shot at the Punjab goal, but goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu made a comfortable save. However, just before the half-hour mark, RoundGlass Punjab took the lead through a well-crafted move. From the left wing, Vanlalremdika sent a low cross for Gyeltshen, who deftly directed the ball towards Majcen. The Slovenian then took a first-time shot with the outside of his right foot, which beat Churchill goalkeeper Nora Fernandes to give RoundGlass Punjab the lead.
The second half started evenly as both sides battled for midfield supremacy, but it was in the 55th minute when Gyeltshen doubled the lead for the hosts. Ajay Chhetri won the ball in midfield and played a one-two with Vanlalremdika before laying a pass for the Bhutanese, who shimmied past Churchill’s Joseph Clemente before slotting the ball into the bottom corner with his right foot.
Following the second goal, Churchill enjoyed a period of 20 minutes where they got close to scoring twice. In the 61st minute, Chaves saw his volley saved by Kiran Limbu, while ten minutes later Sharif Mohammad hit the crossbar with his freekick on the left wing. However, in the 80th minute, RoundGlass Punjab virtually ended the contest when Gyeltshen made a run on the left wing and sent a cut-back towards the six-yard box, which Mera guided into the bottom corner as the entire Churchill defence was caught napping.
The Red Machines denied RoundGlass Punjab the clean sheet though. In the 84th minute, Chaves received a cross from Yaghr inside the six-yard box and the Uruguayan made no mistake in blasting it in from point-blank range. In the final few minutes, Staikos Vergetis’ men ensured that they hold onto their two-goal lead and secure a significant victory.