Panchkula (Haryana), Feb 7 (IANS) Minerva Punjab FC rode on a late strike by Gagandeep Bali to pip Shillong Lajong FC 3-2 in an exciting I-League match and regain the top spot here on Wednesday.
Guy Eric Dano had struck in the sixth minute to give Minerva the lead. Bali (45+2, 81st minute) had doubled the hosts’ lead just before half-time.
However, Lajong clawed their way back into the game in the second half with Daniel Odafin (60th) and Lawrence Sokota Doe (67th) scoring in quick succession to put the visitors on level terms.
It was an open game thereafter with both teams managing to create their fair share of chances.
Bali however, struck in the closing stages to ensure all three points for Minerva.
Minerva thus climbed a spot to the top of the table with 29 points from 13 matches. They pushed down top division debutants Neroca FC to the second place.
Neroca, who have played 14 matches, trail Minerva by two points.
Lajong remain at the fifth position in the 10-team league ladder with 17 points from 15 matches.
Wednesday’s victory is a huge boost for Minerva in their quest for a maiden I-League title as Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are also in with a chance to win the crown.
East Bengal are third with 23 points from 13 matches while arch-rivals Mohun Bagan are fourth with 20 points from 12 outings.