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I-League: Minerva Punjab play out 2-2 draw against Shillong Lajong


Defending champions Minerva Punjab played out an entertaining 2-2 draw against Shillong Lajong at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Friday.

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Coming on the back of defeats – Minerva lost to Gokulam, while Lajong were on a four-match losing streak – both sides were desperate for goals. Minerva looked the better team but Lajong were quick on the counter-attack that helped them get early goals to push the visitors behind.

Phrangki Buam opened the scoring on one such counter after intercepting a horrendous backpass from Deepak Devrani before curling his effort into the net having broken into the box.

Allen Lyngdoh then doubled the lead two minutes from half-time through another counter-attack. Attacking from a corner clearance, Samuel Lyngdoh ran the entire field and on looking up saw four Lajong players inside the Minerva box. He found Allen, who slotted the ball home, to make it 2-0.

But just as Lajong looked to be running away with the game William Opoku pulled one goal back for Minerva just at the stroke of the referee’s whistle. Donatus  Edafe set on a run after receiving a wonderful through ball from the back. Then skidding past a Lajong centre-back, the Nigerian striker passed the ball to an unmarked Opoku.

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Controversy loomed at the beginning of the second half after Minerva Punjab made three consecutive substitutions. Akashdeep Singh, Deepak Devrani and Jagpreet Singh were replaced for Akash Sangwan, Kouassi Alexandre and Bala Dahir immediately after the break but just a minute later they had to call back Bala Dahir after it was found that the visitors were playing with more than six foreigners.

The referee sent back Bala Dahir, while also not allowing Jagpreet Singh to return back into the field as Minerva were left with 10-men for the remaining 45 minutes.

But despite playing with a man less, the reigning champions finally equalised in the 75th minute through Philip Njoku.

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