Defending champions Minerva Punjab rode on Philip Njoku’s 74th-minute strike to edge past Indian Arrows by a solitary goal at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Gurgaon on Saturday.
Taking advantage of a defensive error between Arrows goalkeeper Prabhushkan Gill and a centre-back, Njoku fired home after a corner from William Opoku was flicked into his path.
The victory, their second victory in six matches, helped Minerva climb to fifth in the points table. The Tigers have eight points, while Arrows after a hat-trick of defeats and four in five games are at the bottom place.
Arrows started well enjoying more ball possession but failed to muster any shot on target in the opening 45 minutes. Minerva’s best opportunity in that period was through Opoku when the Ghanian found himself clear on goal. But he failed to keep his shot on target.
The visitor’s first real chance came in the initial minutes of the second half with Rahul KP testing Minerva goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh from a Sanjeev Stalin corner.
Both sides played hard but failed to find the net until Njoku hit the target in the 59th minute. The goal seemed to have put Minerva ahead but the referee adjudged that the Nigerian had handled the ball prior to scoring.
10 minutes later Rahul once again found himself in a great position to open Arrows’ account for the evening but the winger after doing all the hard work of overtaking Lancine Toure and Caicedo Rodriguez placed his effort off-target.
The defeat further jolted the title aspirations of the young boys, who are five round of games are 14 points adrift at the top.