Willis Plaza scored a brace for the Red Machines.
Delhi Dynamos FC failed to book a Hero Super Cup berth as Churchill Brothers SC edged them 2-1 at the end of extra-time in the first qualifier match at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Thursday. Kalu Uche scored the first ever goal of the Cup early into the game to give Dynamos the lead, before Willis Deon Plaza outclassed the Lions’ defence with a fantastic brace.
Dynamos began with their foot on the peddle thronging Churchill’s box with passes and crosses. Uche came very close to score as early as the second minute but ended up fluffing his lines. However, he made no mistake just four minutes later when his screamer from outside the box gave Churchill’s custodian Ricardo Cardozo no chance and lodged itself to the top left corner.
Just six minutes later, Uche had another wonderful chance to double the lead when he met Romeo Fernandes’ fine cross with a free header, only to head it directly towards Cardozo who kept the danger at bay. On the other end, Churchill’s first attempt on target came as late as the 15th minute which Xabier Iruetaguena collected comfortably.
At the half-hour mark, Churchill did manage to create their first proper chance and also found the back of the net through Nicholas Fernandes’ strike, but the goal was ruled out as an offside to their dismay. But just five minutes later, their star striker Plaza collected a wonderful cross from the left and went past his marker to lodge the ball into the net for Churchill’s equaliser.
That proved to be the last bit of major action from the first half as both the teams entered the breather tied at 1-1.
The first chance of the second period came in the 53rd minute when Matias Mirabaje set up Seityasen Singh in front of goal with a lovely ball, but the latter’s slight delay in taking a shot allowed Osagie Monday to fly in with a tackle. Plaza replied with a fantastic dipping shot from distance, seven minutes later, but Xabier did well to dive low and keep it out.
In the 72nd minute, Plaza was again gifted with an opportunity to take the lead when Dawda Ceesay’s cross found him unguarded in front of goal, but his header missed the target by mere inches. Just a few minutes later, Uche found the back of the net through a tap-in from Pritam Kotal’s low cross, but the goal was disallowed as Kotal was caught in an offside position.
Dynamos replied back with another attack soon after, when Nandhakumar Sekar’s low cross found Lallianzuala Chhangte in front of an open goal, but he astonishingly directed it straight to the keeper. Thereafter, both the teams kept surging forward but failed to score the winner at the end of regulation time and the match went into extra-time.
The first fifteen minutes saw both teams trying to build play from the backline and not taking unnecessary risks. The midfield held the ball for almost the entirety of the half with Churchill having more chances at scoring than Dynamos.
However, the second period of extra-time started with a flash of Plaza’s brilliance which gave Churchill a crucial lead. A long ball from the defence found Plaza at the edge of the box, who controlled it brilliantly, went past Delhi’s clueless defence and beat Xabier to score. Dynamos went all guns blazing in the ending minutes but Churchill held their own to keep the lead intact and enter the Hero Super Cup with an inspired performance.