MUMBAI: Minerva Punjab FC, the defending champions, have mesmerised the football-loving crowd of the Cooperage Stadium in Mumbai with a scintillating performance to clinch the Nike Premier Cup for second successive year. Jeakson Singh (7′), Lalchhanhima Sailo (11′) and Md. Shahjahan (33′) smacked three first-half goals to dash the debutante Ozone FC Bengaluru’s dream of winning the Nike Premier Cup in their debut season akin to the champions Minerva Punjab FC.
Right from the start, Minerva started to attack the opponent’s defence and it only took them, 3 minutes to build up their first proper attack of the match, though it did not result in a goal. Minerva scored the first goal of the match through their captain Jeakson Singh within the ten-minute mark.
This out of the world long-range made the people present at the stadium go into a frenzy. The goal shot was taken at least 15 metres away from the penalty box.
Minerva had the chance to double up their lead at the 10th minute of the match but the cross from their left-winger was just an inch away from Md. Shahjahan.
The second goal came 4 minutes after the first one from Sailo. This goal was an exact replica of the first one, expect this one went inside the top left corner of the goal and the first one was banged into the right corner of the goalpost.
Even after getting the second goal, Minerva boys didn’t slow down a bit they kept on playing their brand of pressing football and tiki-taka football.
Throughout the first half of the match, the Minerva defence did a great job by nipping all the possible dangers in the bud. Ozone FC Bengaluru hardly got any proper chance to take a shot onto the Minerva goal.
Thanks to the pressing football by the Minervans and a perfect assist from Sailo, Md. Shahjahan nailed the final one in the Ozone FC coffin on 33 minutes.
Needless to say, Minerva completely dominated the first half of the match and they headed to the changing room with a handsome 3-0 lead.
In the second half, just when it seemed Ozone FC were starting to settle down and getting a hang of the match, the Minervans came out and put up two back-to-back attacks.
At the 51st minute, Minerva almost had their fourth goal but unfortunately for them, it was ruled an offside. Then two minutes later, Minerva was awarded a free-kick outside the box. Had it not been a brilliant save by the Ozone FC goalkeeper Gurmeet Singh, the score line could have been 4-0 in favour of the Minerva boys.
Minerva could afford to replace their first-choice goalie in the 75th minute. However, both of the Minerva goalies, who stood under the woodwork tonight, were hardly tested by the opponent attackers.
Ozone’s best chance of minimising the gap came on 83 minutes but yet again the Minerva defence was up to the task. The danger was averted with a beautifully executed sliding tackle.
The most commendable part was that both the team maintained a high tempo throughout the match. Moreover, for Ozone FC, who came into the second half with a deficit of three goals, never for a moment gave up the fight, even during the extra time they were running after the ball with utmost zeal, they always had the hunger for goal in their game but it seems the game planning let them down.
Ozone FC, who earned huge accolades for their bravado on their debut season, are awarded a cheque of INR 1.5 Lac whereas Minerva Punjab FC are bestowed with the snazzy Nike Premier Cup trophy and a hefty cheque of INR 5 Lac.