Kalyani, Feb 13 (PTI) Punjab FC moved to the top spot in the I-League standings after notching up a comfortable 2-0 victory over Chennai City at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium here on Saturday.
With the result, the Punjab side have now displaced Churchill Brothers on the summit of I-League points table with 14 points from eight outings -- one point ahead of the Red Machines, who have played one game less.
A solid performance in goal by Kiran Kumar Limbu, sandwiched between goals by Papa Diawara and Robert Nongrum ensured Curtis Fleming's men picked up all three points.
The game opened with fast end-to-end football, but both sides were unable to get their efforts on target.
Punjab created the first big opening of the game in the 18th minute. Chencho flicked a long ball over his marker and forced a brilliant save from Chennai City's Kabir Toufik.
Punjab kept pushing and reaped rewards in the 43rd minute. Souvik Das' cross found Diawara just outside the six-yard box. The Senegalese held off a challenge from Tarif Akhand and volleyed his effort past a stranded Toufik.
Chennai City sought an immediate reply through a free-kick. Substitute Elvedin Skrijelj's cross from distance was met by Demir Avdic, who yet again failed to hit the target. As a result, Punjab went into half-time with a 1-0 lead.
Punjab went in search for the second goal early in the second half and were close to finding it a minute after the restart. Toufik failed to hold on to RV Horipam's flicked header from a long throw, causing chaos in the box. Luckily for him, his defence was there to bail him out.
On the other end, Chennai created a rare opportunity to equalise in the 59th minute. Demir Avdic won the ball off a defender before breaking in the box and sending a bullet strike towards goal. However, Kiran Kumar produced a magnificent save, ensuring his side's lead was safe.
With their lead intact, Punjab FC kept attacking and came close again in the 84th minute. Diawara latched on to Beitia's corner, but his header went over the goal. It did not matter much though, as finally, Curtis Fleming’s team scored four minutes later.
Aphaoba Singh broke on the counter, latching on to a long pass from Beitia before sending in a dipping shot. Toufik saved the shot but sent the rebound into the path of substitute Rupert Nongrum, who made sure he remained onside and duly put the ball into an empty net. PTI APA AH AH