Churchill Brothers made it the round of 16 of the AFC Cup when they warded off second half challenge to edge past Al-Hillal by a solitary goal win in group 'B' played at Nehru Stadium, Margao, on Tuesday.
The all-important goal was scored in the 42nd minute through Felix Chimaokwu.
Churchill Brothers who beat Al Hilal 2-1 in the away match is leading the table with 7 points from three matches.
While, Al Hilal who is at the bottom of the table with one point from as many matches now needs to win against Kuwait SC in their last match and see Churchill Brothers beat them when they play with them on April 28th.
Both the teams played cautiously in the first half with neither of the team showing urgency in their attack. Churchill failed to put up the same performance which they displayed against Kuwait SC created few openings in the first half and managed to score in the 42nd minute when they breached the rival defence who put up a good show till then.
Odafe Okolie who was closely marked by the rival defence snatched the ball from Mohammed Saleh Yousef Salem who tried to hold on to it on top of the box and quickly released it with a through pass to Felix Chimaokwu who raced into the box to outsmart his marker and send a stiff shot to find the back of the net past a helpless keeper Anas Saleh Yousef.
The visitors, who were handicapped with the absence of their foreign recruits as they cannot travel to Goa because of visa problems, dominated the second half and created openings but lacked the finishing.
Goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharjee came to the rescue of his side twice when he made diving saves to deny Yaser Ahmed Mohammed Ba Suhai.
Al Hilal, who kept on pressing for the elusive equaliser, had the best opportunity in the 70th minute but Munassar Awadh Abdullah Ba Haj failed to guide the ball on target from close range.
Odafe, who was well marked by the rival defence did manage to get the better of his marker and once essayed a rasping drive whuch missed the mark by a whisker.
Churchill Brothers coach Carlos Pereira was happy with the win.
"Our team did not play to the potential but ultimately what matters is the three points which they managed to garner through Felix's goal," stated Pereira.
On the other hand, Al Hilal coach was disappointed that they could not win inspite of dominating the second half. "The absence of our foreign players and a key midfielder has let us down," he said.
Churchill Bros star striker Odafe Okolie, who received yellow card and will miss their next match against Kuwait SC on April 28 in Kuwait.
Referee Vo Minh Tri of Vietnam showed yellow card to Churchill Bros Rowilson Rodrigues, Odafe Okolie, Nascimento Silveiera and Al Hilal's Yaser Ahmed Mohammed Ba Suhai and Munassar Awadh Abdullah Ba Haj.