March 2019
10:03 PM IST
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Chennai City are New Champions, I-League
New Delhi: Chennai City on Saturday scripted a new chapter in the history of Indian football by becoming champions of Indian League (IL) with 3-1 triumph over Minerva Punjab at Coimbatore, and Quess East Bengal emerged the runners up after they beat Gokulam Kerala 2-1 at Kozhikode in the final round of marathon league played across the country.

Playing at home ground Chennai City came from behind to win the championship in fashion before few thousands cheering crowds. Chennai were stunned when the visiting forward Ronald Bilala from Punjab on a set piece headed home in inside three minutes and the home team went for water break in disappointment. On their return the CC regrouped themselves and brought play in parity thorough a penalty in the 56th minute. Captain Pedro Manzi shot home the penalty kick after a rival defender handled the ball inside the box.

The wining goals for Chennai came from northeast striker Gaurav Bora, who scored twice (69'' and 90+3'') and adjudged the Hero of the Match. Bora was seen crying in joy while receiving a cheque of Rs 25,000. In away play at Kozhikode East Bengal also came from behind to win 2-1 against Gokulam Kerala. Marcus Joseph fired the first salvo in the 69th minute to give lead Kerala but Jamie Santos Colado''s penalty goal (79'') and Ladanmawia Ralte''s strike (85'') helped East Bengal to win the last round play of I-League. At the end of 20th round Chennai City have 43 points and East Bengal collected 42 points, almost a neck and neck race in the 11-team championship.

Real Kashmir are 3rd with 36 points from 19 games. They will have a match against last year winners Minerva Punjab. For Kolkata giants Quess East Bengal, I-League has been remaining illusive for them since the national top tier tournament renamed in 2007-08 from National Football League (NFL). Three times NFL winners East Bengal have been runners up on four occasions 2010-11, 2011-12, 2013-14 and 2018-19. All India Football Federation president Praful Patel congratulated the winner and the participating teams.

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