Minerva Punjab FC secured a crucial away victory as they pipped Churchill Brothers by 4-5 in a nine-goal thriller at the Tilak Maidan in Goa on Sunday.
In the process, Minerva move to seventh spot for the time-being while Churchill stay rooted at rock bottom.
Six goals were scored in the first half while another three were struck in the second in a see-saw battle in Goa. Minerva scored through David Ngaihte (4th minute), Simranjit Singh (22nd), Souvik Das (31st) Loveday Enyinaya Okechukwu (51st) and Nurain (87th). Churchill found the net through Chesterpoul Lyngdoh (7th), Adil Khan (18th), Anthony Wolfe (41st) and Ansumana Kromah (76th).
Churchill Brothers led in the third minute of the game. A quick throw-in on the right flank was floated into the box by Kamalpreet Singh. The cross found its way to forward David Ngaihte whose glancing header gave Minerva a 1-0 lead.
However, Churchill found an equalizer fast. A quick interchange between Anthony Wolfe and Kromah saw Kromah hold off three defenders outside the Minerva box before releasing the ball to Chesterpaul Lyngdoh, who fired a low angled shot from the left channel to make it 1-1.
Churchill then took the lead from a corner as Brandon Fernandes found defender Adil Khan who made it 2-1.
Minerva found the equalizer soon enough when David Ngaithe's quick corner found Simranjeet Singh, who with a twist of his head, guided the ball into the far corner. 21 minutes gone and its 2-2.
Ngaithe then slipped a pass to Souvik Das who smashed into the net to make it 2-3 in 10 minutes. Churchill equalized once again five minutes to the half-time when Lyngdoh crossed from the right which saw Wolfe and keeper Arnab go for the same ball. Arnab dropped the ball as Kromah headed it in.
The second half was a much-subdued affair until the 68th minute when Minerva took a 4-3 lead.
The Punjab side won a free-kick a few yards left of the centre-circle. Kareem Nurain took the free-kick and their defender Loveday Okechukwu's looping header hit the post on its way into the goal.
The lead was short-lived as Minerva conceded a penalty when defender Kareem Nurain brought down Kromah in the 75th minute. The Liberian forward made no mistake with his shot as he coolly placed the ball into the net to make it 4-4.
There was more twist in store as Churchill conceded an unfortunate penalty when Anirudh Thapa's shot hit Keenan Almeida's hand. Kareem who had conceded the penalty stepped up and smashed hit into the side to make it 4-5 and take three precious points leaving Churchill Brothers high and dry.
Lajong leapfrog Bengaluru FC to fourth place
Shillong Lajong dispelled their away woes with a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Chennai City FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Chennai on Sunday.
Goals from Fabio Pena (38'), Issac Vanlalsawma (65'), Bipin Singh (77') and Aser Dipanda (79′) propelled the Meghalaya-based team while Amiri (89′) grabbed a late consolation for the home team.
Amiri had caused several headaches for the Shillong defence before Thangboi Singto had had enough. He brought on Brazilian attacking midfielder Fabio Pena for Redeem Tlang who was anonymous on the right wing.
The move eventually paid dividends as Issac sent in a brilliant delivery which was met by Fabio Pena, who lost his marker well and headed the ball past a stranded Karanjit Singh to give Shillong a 1-0 lead.
Chennai City looked stung and deflated to concede after a good start to the game and looked a bit out of sorts for the rest of the half.
Shillong started the second half well, with Kinowaki and Issac dictating the play at will. Within a space of 12 minutes they scored two goals to effectively finish the game.
The first came from Issac who doubled Shillong's advantage with an absolute peach of a free kick. Bipin Singh, then curled a sublime effort into the top corner on the counter to make it 3-0 with 13 minutes to go.
Another counter led to another goal as Dipanda evaded Ravanan on the right wing and sent a left-footed effort past Karanjit to seal a comprehensive win.
Amiri pulled one back for the home side but it didn't stop Shillong Lajong gain all three points and leapfrog Bengaluru FC to the fourth spot while Chennai remain rooted at the ninth position in the table.