A double strike by Ogba Kalu Nnanna guided Churchill Bros on top of the ONGC I-League table as the hosts scored an impressive 3-1 victory over visitors Mohun Bagan in the 18th round match played at Nehru Stadium in Margao on Wednesday.
With this win, Churchill took their tally to 36 points from 18 matches and toppled Sporting Clube De Goa from the top of the table by one point.
Meanwhile, Bagan remained on third place with 33 points from 17 matches.
After Odafe Okolie neutralised Jose Ramires Barreto's 29th minute strike in the stoppage time of the first half, Kalu scored in the 58th and 76th minute to put the hosts in front.
The first half was confined to midfield initially with both the teams playing cautiously with their defense giving nothing away.
Lalkamal Bhowmick combined well with S Malswam Tlanga as they built moves, mostly from the right, trying to meet Baretto.
Bhowmick picked up the ball on the right and relayed to Baretto who chested and beat Rowilson Rodrigues and with rival keeper Arindam Bhattacharya leaving his charge placed the ball to the far end of the net.
Churchill kept on pressing and found the equaliser in the stoppage time of the first half when an Okolie header found the net off a flag kick taken by Khan Gthang Paite.
The goal acted as a tonic for Churchill as they attacked Bagan citadel in waves. Kalu who controlled the midfield put Churchill in front in the 58th minute as he picked the ball from the center and relayed it to Odafe who split the defense with a forward pass back to Kalu, whose deft placement hit the post and found the back of the net.
Bagan's attack lacked sting in the absence of skipper Bhaichung Bhutia, who missed the match due to double-booking, as PC Lalawmpuia was off-colour.
With Barreto also limping off the field after aggravating an injury, Kalu sealed Bagan's fate with his second goal in the 76th minute as he worked his way with a one-to-one pass with Okolie.
Bagan's Pete Odafe was shown the yellow card.
The equalizer by Odafe Okolie and the injury to Jose Barreto was the turning point as our team surrendered in the second half, Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa said after the match. We are still in the race for the title as we have five more matches to play and anything can happen, he said.
The win has put the team on top of the table for the first time and we have a good chance of winning the title, Churchill coach Zoran Djordjevic said.