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Salgaocar-Churchill start with draw

Margao: Local champions Salgaocar and last editionís runners-up Churchill Brothers played out a 2-2 draw and split points in an exciting inaugural match of the seventh National Football League at the Nehru Stadium on Friday.

Both teams played an attacking game throughout. Salgaocar dictated terms initially and took an early lead in the second minute when an Alex Ambrose shot from the top of the box saw Churchill íkeeper Edward Ansah fumble and fail to collect cleanly.

Sunday Seah, who was lurking nearby, pounced on the loose ball and shot home past Ansah.

Seah had a glorious chance to increase the lead two minutes later, but he shot over the bar from close after beating defender Osumano Husseini.

Churchill regrouped and counter-attacked from the left, restoring parity in the 12th minute. Defender Rajesh Meetei who overlapped well on the left send a deep cross into the box for Yusif Yakubu who controlled the ball before sending a neat placement to find the far post.

Six minutes later, Churchill succeeded in taking the lead when Tiken Singh who received the ball from a Meetei throw-in took a long angular shot from the left beating Salgaocar íkeeper Kalyan Chowbey. The ball hit the far post before entering the net.

Earlier, Ansah made a brilliant save off a powerful drive from defender Bello Rasaq.

Salgaocar, who failed to keep the momentum going after a bright start, did some more probing in the second half. Seah, who was well-marked, did manage to give his minder the slip twice but his well-directed header off a defender Manitombi Singh lob was collected by Ansah. Later, his half-volley missed the target narrowly.

Salgaocar, who kept pressing, finally restored parity in the 74th minute. Jatin Bisht laid a pass to Bungo, on the left. The latter took a rasping 25 yard shot that beat Ansah to find the roof of the net.

In the dying minutes, Churchill had a good chance to take the lead but Kasif Jamal who found himself clear inside the box failed to direct the ball on target.

Earlier, Indiaís Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, felicitated Arjuna awardee Bruno Coutinho and presented him a memento and a purse of Rs 5 lakhs.

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