Ludhiana: Punjab FC overcame defending champions Chennai City FC in spectacular fashion by defeating them 3-1 at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana on Tuesday. The hosts took the lead through substitute Dipanda Dicka in the 78th minute before Pedro Manzi equalised for the visitors in the 85th minute. However, the home team scored two goals in a space of four minutes through Thoiba Singh and Sergio Barboza to register their first win of the I-League 2019-20 season.
With the win, Punjab FC are now fifth in the league table with four points from three games while the defending champions have slipped to sixth with three points from two matches.
Punjab head coach Yan Law made a host of changes from his side that drew 1-1 at home with Quess East Bengal. Anwar Ali returned to the line-up after having served his one-match suspension. Aser Dipanda Dicka started on the bench while Jason Hart returned to the eleven.
Akbar Nawas, on the other hand, fielded a conventional 4-3-3, looking to cause trouble to the Punjab full-backs. He made only one change from his Chennai City line-up that won 1-0 at home against TRAU FC, with Shem Martin Eugene starting in place of Fito Miranda.
Both sides made a lively start to the match, looking to capitalise on the slightest of lapses. In the ninth minute, it was Punjab who came close to taking the lead. A deflected Calvin Lobo attempt on goal almost wrong-footed Chennai goalkeeper Nauzet Garcia Santana but the Spaniard did well to recover and make the save.
With the ball in their feet, Punjab's pace on the wings did trouble Chennai City FC but the visitors maintained their calm approach to the game and kept playing out from the back.
Punjab had a golden opportunity to take the lead before the break in the 39th minute when Sergio Barboza, with only the keeper to beat, failed to find the back of the net.
Dipanda Dicka was then introduced in place Girik Mahesh Khosla in the 56th minute by the home team. The substitution paid dividends when in the 78th minute, Dicka leapt the highest to meet a corner from Sanju Pradhan and gave Punjab the lead.
The visitors, however, refused to fall back and paid dividends of the same in the 85th minute. A speculative delivery into the box was met by Manzi and he made no mistake in finishing the chance to level the scores.
The home team then made use of a late scramble in the Chennai City box as 16-year-old Thoiba Singh jumped on the opportunity and buried the ball into the back of the net.
The icing on the cake came in the first minute of stoppage time. Makan Winkle Chote found himself in some space on the right flank which prompted him to deliver one inside the box. The delivery was met spectacularly by a diving header from Barboza, who made it 3-1 for the hosts.