Neroca FC jumped to second in the I-League points table after beating Indian Arrows 3-0 at the Khuman Lampak Main Stadium in Imphal on Friday.
Former East Bengal midfielder Katsumi Yusa opened the scoring for Neroca in the 29th minute before Felix Chidi and Malemnganba Meitei added two more in the second half helping the Manipur club displace Minerva Punjab with a better goal difference than the defending champions.
Chennai City still leads the table with 17 points, while Neroca are six points behind at the second position – same as Minerva – after seven rounds of matches. Meanwhile, Arrows after fifth defeat in six games remained at the bottom place with three points.
The home side started well but it was Arrows, who had the first shot on target when Rahim Ali fired a feeble attempt straight at Lalit Thapa after finding little space inside the opposition box.
KP Rahul then failed to get to the end of Ali cross despite being unmarked at the far post, while Ali himself headed wide in the 25th minute as Arrows failed to make most of the chances that came their way in the first half.
But four minutes after Ali headed a Sanjeev Stalin corner above the bar, Neroca broke the deadlock through Yusa. The Japanese applied a brilliant finish to Subash Singh’s pass volleying the ball past Prabsukhan Gill.
Arrows then had their best opportunity of the opening 45 minutes when Rahul found himself in a one-on-one situation from a Rahim pass in the 34th minute but could not beat Thapa at goal, with the veteran snatching the ball away from his feet to keep his side ahead with a slender lead.
Chidi then doubled the lead 10 minutes into the second half after intercepting a loose ball outside the penalty box.
Rahul once again had the Arrows’ best opportunity when he found himself unmarked from a Stalin corner but like the first half headed straight at Thapa.
The home side’s final nail in the coffin came from Meitei, who slotted home an Aryn Williams cross to ensure the victory for Neroca with six minutes to play.