KOLKATA, March 8: Manipurís Neroca FC wrapped up a memorable I-League debut season by finishing runners-up after holding heavyweights East Bengal to a 1-1 draw, here today.
It was heartbreak for both the Kolkata heavyweights, as they failed to win the title with East Bengal finishing fourth in the table behind arch-rivals Mohun Bagan who also played a 1-1 draw with Gokulam Kerala FC.
In quest for the elusive I-League title, East Bengal required to win the match and pray for a favourable result from other two matches.
But with eventual champions Minerva Punjab winning 1-0 over Churchill Brothers at Panchkula, East Bengal fought a losing battle.
Khalid Jamilís men also had an uninspiring first-half that saw them squander at least four opportunities, and trail by Felix Chidiís 42nd minute goal.
In the second-half, East Bengal showed some urgency and their Nigerian leading scorer Dudu Omagbemi, who missed at least three chances, finally found the net in the 73rd minute.
But that was not enough, as Neroca FC put up a solid defence backed by goalkeeper Lalit Thapa who was adjudged man-of-the-match for his brilliant show under the bar. Ė PTI