HASC's survival hopes in the I-League were left hanging by a thread after a 3-0 defeat to Churchill Brothers at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Sunday.

Odafe Okolie and Bineesh Balan scored early in the first half before New Zealander Kayne Vincent added the third four minutes from time.

The home side's fifth straight defeat left it rooted to the bottom of the table, and needing wins in the last two matches, against Dempo and East Bengal, to avoid relegation.

Churchill, meanwhile, found itself occupying first place, at least temporarily, with still a mathematical chance of claiming the title. “This clear victory is a good sign,” coach Drago Mamic said afterwards.

“We still have a theoretical chance, but in my opinion, Dempo will win the league..”

Churchill outclassed the home side for large portions of the match, and needed only seven minutes to move ahead. Boima Karpen barged past HASC right-back R. Sreekanth to gain control of a ball hopefully slid out of midfield by Zakeer Mundampara. Karpen fed league top-scorer Okolie, who took no notice of another weak challenge by Sreekanth to casually finish past Rintu Mallick.

A thing of beauty

A second goal did not appear far off, with HASC desperately struggling to respond to some slick interplay between Karpen, Okolie, and man-of-the-match Balan. As it turned out, it was only six more minutes in arriving, and was a thing of beauty.

Denzil Franco's ball in from the right was splendidly held up and controlled by Okolie, standing just inside the box with his back to goal. The latter teed up Balan who lashed it into the net from the edge of the area with the outside of his right foot.

Vincent's neat header in the dying minutes, off a Lenny Rodrigues cross, capped off what was from beginning-to-end a stroll.

The result: HASC 0 lost to Churchill Brothers 3 (Odafe Okolie 7, Bineesh Balan 13, Kayne Vincent 86).

Keywords: I-League

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