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 April 9, 2002 | 1835 IST

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Zee Churchill beat HAL to surge ahead

Title contenders Goa's Zee Churchill Brothers improved their position in the points table when they scored a 1-0 victory over debutants Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bangalore, in a 21st round match in the Tata National Football League in Bangalore on Tuesday.

Churchill, who began their 21st engagement as favourites, scored the lone goal through Yusif Yakubu in the 30th minute.

Yakub not only suceeded in intercepting a pass from HAL's Rajendra Prasad, but also made no mistake in shooting into the net, bringing cheer to his team. In the process, he swelled his goal tally in the tournament to 17 and emerged the highest scorer by a huge margin.

Churchill, who went into the game in an aggressive mood, kept on raiding the HAL citadel. They floundered a scoring chance in the eighth minute when captain Roque Barretto's powerful shot landed in the hands of goalkeeper Gumpe Rime.

Rime brought off two superb saves off Churchill's attempts in 16th minute and 20th minutes when Ratan Singh and Yusif Yakubu tried to score.

HAL concentrated more on defence rather than attack in the first half. In the second, they made a Herculean effort to find an equaliser, but the Churchil defence and custodion Edward Anash did not oblige.

HAL came near scoring in the 80th minute but Sunil failed to head a pass from Danair Abdyraimov.

With this win, Churchill increased their points tally to 42 while HAL remained at 25.

During the proceedings, certain decisions of referee Krishan Avtar came in for protests by the HAL supporters, who virtually entered into arguements with some Churchill supporters.

The wordy duel between the supporters of the two teams threatended to snowball into a clash after the HAL fans hurled chairs towards the Churchill supporters. However, police soon intervened and escorted a few of the Churchill fans out.

When the play ended, the local supporters were still booing and jeering the referee. However, police escorted him to safety.

While Churchill take on another title contender, Mohun Bagan on home turf at Goa in their last engagement of the league on April 15, HAL play Mahindra United in Mumbai.

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