Coimbatore, March 9: Chennai City FC were crowned as I League champions for the first time after their 3-1 comeback win over Minerva Punjab at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Saturday (March 9).
For the third year in a row, I League title was decided on the final matchday with Chennai City FC and traditional powerhouses, East Bengal in a two-way battle
Assam-born 20-year old Delhi lad, Gaurav Bora did the star turn for the hosts with two second-half goals as Chennai finished with 43 points, one ahead of East Bengal, who despite winning their final game in Kozhikode against Gokulam Kerala, saw their dreams of the first-ever title triumph fade away.
Pedro Manzi, their main Spanish striker fittingly scored a goal to join Churchill Brother's Willis Plaza as the joint top scorer of the league with 21 goals apiece, but the day undoubtedly belonged to the young Gaurav, a versatile defender-cum midfielder who capped off a brilliant season with a double-strike when it mattered most for his team.
Champions 🦁 pic.twitter.com/0QDy20Qy0Y— Chennai City FC (@ChennaiCityFC) March 9, 2019
It did not begin perfectly as Minerva took an early lead in the 3rd minute through Ukranian recruit Roland Bilala.
Chennai had to wait till the 55th minute to draw level.
Akashdeep Singh in an effort to clear inadvertently handled the ball inside the box and referee Santhosh Bhaskaran had no hesitation in pointing to the spot from where Pedrconverted.
The young Gaurav then made a name for a lifetime with two stunning strikes to put the issue beyond anyone's doubt. Both goals came off corners taken by Sandro from the right flank.
The first in the 69th minute was earned by Sandro himself who then delivered perfectly and Gaurav coming in on the far post unmarked connected with a crisp volley to put Chennai ahead.
Then if East Bengal had any hopes remaining of a dying minute Minerva equaliser, Gaurav put paid them in the third minute of injury time as celebrations began in the Chennai camp.