Minerva Punjab FC were held to a 2-2 draw by Abahani Limited Dhaka in Wednesday’s Group E encounter on Matchday Two of the 2019 AFC Cup at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka.
The match started brightly with Minerva Punjab FC taking the charge in early stages. Souvik Das and Mahmoud Al Amna both tested the Abahani keeper with long range shots. The visitors’ constant effort paid off in the 16th minute with Makan Winkle Chothe setting up Al Amna who stretched and finished it off in style to take Minerva Punjab FC 1-0 up.
Abahani responded immediately with a run down the left wing followed by a cross and a finish off the near post by Nabib Jibon to level the score at 1-1 in the 20th Minute. The home side followed it up with a shot outside the box which was brilliantly saved by Minerva Punjab FC’s GK Bhaskar Roy.
Minerva Punjab FC made a tactical change in the 38th minute, replacing Harminder Singh with Sreyas Gopalan. The change paid off immediately, with Sreyas intercepting a poor back pass and scoring a stunner from just outside the box. Minerva controlled the game well to lead 2-1 at the half-time whistle.
Early in the second half, Abahani were awarded a free kick just outside the box on right wing. The free kick flew over the Minervan goalkeeper to hit the crossbar but only for the rebound to be converted into an equaliser by Sunday Chizoba in the 48th minute.
Hereafter, both the teams tried for a winner but were unable to find so. Minerva Punjab FC’s striker Sreyas fired couple of good shots including a header which just went inches wide of the goal. Sreyas hurt his shoulder in an attempted header but continued to play on for his team.
The best opportunity of the game fell to Minerva Punjab FC’s Amandeep Singh in the 76th minute. Amandeep was put clear on goal, with only keeper to beat from 10 yards but shot tamely and wide off the goal to deny Minerva Punjab FC the opportunity to lead and go for the three points.
Minerva Punjab FC clearly made better chances but were unlucky with finishing. The match finished at 2-2 with both the teams sharing a point each. The match didn’t have a clear winner but surely entertained the fans with about 20 shots attempted on goal from each sides.
With this draw, Minerva Punjab FC have two points from two matches, though they have two away games off their back. Abahani Limited Dhaka are placed joint top of the group with four points from two matches but have much tougher away matches to play.
Minerva Punjab FC will be playing their next game at Kalinga stadium against Manang Marshyangdi Club on May 1, which will also be Minerva Punjab FC’s first home game.