I-League 2018-19: Chennai City bag trophy on blockbuster final day
The I-League 2018-19 trophy was decided on the final game-week. And Chennai City emerged champions after a 3-1 win against defenders Minerva Punjab. Notably, Chennai were trailing in the match. They became the first team from Tamil Nadu to win the I-League and stayed above East Bengal, who came from behind to defeat Gokulam Kerala FC. Here are the details.
The I-League had a spicy end to the 2018-19 campaign. Both Chennai and East Bengal came into the final game-week knowing that they had to win at any cost and then see how things shape up. East Bengal were one point behind Chennai at the start of the day. Both teams went a goal down, but they rallied on to earn victories.
Chennai ended the campaign with 43 points from 20 matches. They went behind in the first half itself through Roland Bilala and things were looking a bit tense. Pedro Manzi scored from the penalty spot to equalize for Chennai. Gaurav Bora scored a brace towards the end to seal the deal. Manzi ended as the joint top-scorer in the league (21 goals).
For East Bengal, there were tense moments as well. They needed to win and also ensure that Chennai drop points. They went a goal down in the second half and things looked done and dusted. Marcus Joseph handed Gokulam the lead. Jaime Santos equalized with a penalty. Laldanmawia Ralte scored the winner for the visitors in the 85th minute. But it wasn't enough.
There are reports that East Bengal are considering a move to Indian Super League next season. "This was the last chance for East Bengal to win the I-League. Next year, they will be in ISL is what I am hearing. They can continue with this coach (Alejandro Menendez), ISL is a different game and is being watched worldwide," said IM Vijayan to Goal.
A total of 303 goals were scored in the 2018-19 edition of the I-League. There were 342 yellow cards and 12 red cards in total. Pedro Manzi and Churchill Brothers striker Willis Plaza scored 21 goals each to share the 'Golden Boot'. Chennai City scored the most goals (48). Real Kashmir FC earned the most clean sheets (10). Shillong Lajong got relegated.