Ito strikes as Churchill Bros hold Mahindra United

 
Both the teams played out a tense first half that ended 1-1. Mahindra took the lead in the 26th minute with Serbian mid-fielder Svetozmar Mijin and seven minutes later Churchill equalised after Japanese recruit Dan Ito slotted into the net.

Fresh from their back-to-back title wins in the IFA Shield and the Durand Cup, Churchill were slow off the blocks and found themselves reduced to ten men in the 65th minute after goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya was red carded for handling the ball. But the Goan team played sensibly to earn a point from their away game.    

Mahindra started well with Mohammad Rafi and Subair Muritala Ali upfront but it was the Serbian midfielder who was more effective with his ability to cut into the Churchill defence.

Churchill goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya and defender Gourmangi Singh had a busy day as both Rafi and Mijin tried to prise open the defence. Rafi was on target in the 25th minute but Bhattacharya put on an excellent save to thwart the shot. In the next minute, Mijin intercepted a Steven Dias flag-kick and and shot past Bhattacharya as Mahindra took the lead.  Churchill re-organised their attack and star Nigerian striker Odafe Onyek Okolie and their latest Japanese recruit started making inroads in search for the equaliser. Ito intercepted Naoba Singh’s cross from the right flank and fired in the equaliser in the 33rd miniute.

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