Shillong, January 14: William Asiedu Opoku scored the only goal of the game as Minerva Punjab pulled off a difficult away win at Shillong Lajong on Sunday (January 14) in the I-League.
William struck in the 58th minute in front of 5,800 home fans of Shillong as Minerva Punjab opened a four-point lead over East Bengal on top of the table with 22 points from nine games. Lajong remain fourth with 14 points in 10 games.
57' GOAL!— Hero I-League (@ILeagueOfficial) January 14, 2018
An absolute gem! @Che7cho in the left flank does the trick for @Minerva_AFC as he sprints across to cross one in with the angle for William to tap it in and he does exactly that. 4th assist of the season by the Bhutanese Ronaldo.
LAJ 0 - 1 MPFC#HeroILeague #LAJvMPFC
While managing to hold their ground against Minerva, Lajong's chances of winning were denied by the Minerva defence and the in-form Rakshit Dagar, who was awarded Hero of the match.
Minerva's first goal attempt came in the 5th minute with Opoku getting past Lajong's defence. However, his shot was wide and missed the goal.
Lajong had a good chance to score in the 21st minute. Alen Deory's deflected shot was saved by Minerva goalkeeper Rakshit Dagar with Al-Hagri failing to send the ball into the net on the rebound.
Lajong midfielder Redeem Tlang went on to replace Al-Hagri in the 28th minute, which marked Lajong's first substitution.
The first blow to Lajong came in the 32nd minute when midfielder Daniel Odafin was given a yellow card.
Minerva created another chance to score in the 40th minute but Opoku's shot went wide again. Lajong replied with an attempt at the Minerva goal, which was saved by Dagar in the 43rd minute.
The start of the second half had Minerva applying the pressure on the home side. The Punjab based team's offence was up by a notch as they had Lajong on the defensive.
Minerva replaced forward Lago Dogbobei with Girik Mahesh Khosla in the 57th minute.
It was then that the game changed as Minerva took the lead from Opoku's strike.
Chencho Gyeltshen ran down the left flank beating Novin Gurung by sheer pace and fed Opoku with an assist, who in turn sent a magnificent shot into the back of the net.
Leading the game by 1-0, it could be seen that the confidence of the Minerva team was at an all-time high as they momentarily silenced the otherwise strong home crowd.
Lajong's chance to score an equaliser came in the 62nd minute but Dagar managed to save Koffi's shot. Minerva replied in the 66th minute with another goal attempt by Girik.
Lajong made two substitutions in the 69th and 80th minute as Sheen Stevenson Sohktung replaced midfielder Hardy Cliff Nongbria and F. Lalrohlua replaced forward Deory.
Lajong tried to get back into the game but could not get past Minerva's strong defence.
Shillong Lajong 0 lost to Minerva Punjab 1 (William Asiedu Opoku 58)
Source: AIFF Media