Dec 14: Odafe Onyeka Okolie’s hat-trick powered Durand cup champions Churchill Brothers to score a 3-2 win over Kolkata giant East Bengal after trailing from a goal in the league match of the ONGC I-League at Nehru Stadium, Fatorda in Margao here on Thursday.
Churchill missed an easy opportunity to take the lead in the 25th minute when Robert Lalthlamvana shot the ball over the cross bar from inside the box, however, East Bengal made the best use of the counter attack in the very next move to surge ahead in the 26th minute through Edmilson Marques.
East Bengal had the chance to extend their lead but the Brazilian Edmilson wasted a penalty kick, which proved costly to his team in the end, while Odafe was rocking at the forefront as he came up with three dazzling first half strikes to set aside East Bengal’s challenge. Nigerian received the man of the match award for his stellar show.
Churchill equalised five minutes later. Okolie received a pass from the right and dodged past defenders Debabrata Roy and Airbor Khongjee to direct an angular shot that brushed past inside the post on its way to the net.
Churchill sustained the pressure and was awarded a penalty after defender Debabrata brought down Ogba Kalu Nnanna inside the box. Okolie made no mistake to make it 2-1.
Okolie completed his hat-trick with a solo charge two minutes before half-time off a fine pass from Khan Thang Paite, as Goan outfit went into the lemon-break with a 3-1 lead.
On resumption, East Bengal players tried their hard to stage a comeback in the match, but their few half-hearted efforts turned futile by the Goan defenders pushing them away from the danger area.
Still East Bengal managed to reduce the losing margin through Mehtab Hussain four minutes before the final whistle. The win took Churchill to nine points from five matches while East Bengal remained on seven after Thursday’s defeat.