Minerva Punjab FC clinched their maiden I-League title on Thursday after a 1-0 win over Churchill Brothers FC. William Opoku Asiedu scored the decisive goal in the 15th minute and the Punjab-based outfit held on to the advantage until the end. 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.
Two-time champions Churchill Brothers, meanwhile, have been relegated.
In other matches, Mohun Bagan were held 1-1 by a spirited Gokulam Kerala FC. Aer Dipanda Dicka struck in the 26th minute to put Mohun Bagan in the lead. Henry Kisekka (45+1) found the equaliser just before half-time. Manipur debutants Neroca FC held city football giants East Bengal to a 1-1 draw in a crunch last-round I-League match.
East Bengal thus finished fourth in the points table with 31 points, same as Mohun Bagan who ended third owing to better head-to-head record. East Bengal needed to beat second-placed Neroca and then hope table-toppers Minerva Punjab FC (32 points) don't triumph against relegation-threatened Churchill Brothers. Neroca (32 points) finished second while Churchill were relegated.
Neroca, on their part, needed Minerva to lose in order to harbour hopes of winning the league for the first time.
(With IANS Inputs)