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How the I-League's dramatic final day unfolded

A first-half goal from William Opoku earned Minerva a 1-0 win over Churchill Brothers, helping them seal the title on the final day.
Minerva celebrate winning the I-League

With four teams in title contention at the start Thursday, the final day of the I-League was not short on drama. Here's a recap of how things unfolded.

3pm: Kick-off

Minerva began in pole position, their 32 points putting them ahead of NEROCA (31), Mohun Bagan (30) and East Bengal (30). It meant they just needed a win to put the other three out of contention.

3:15pm: Opoku puts Minerva ahead

William Opoku scored the first goal of the day in Panchkula, taking advantage of some slack defending from...

Advantage Minerva but 'predicting is difficult'

Less than a year ago, they were battling to avoid the wooden spoon. Now, Minerva Punjab go into the final round as favourites to win the I-League

The I-League season will reach its thrilling climax on Thursday, with three matches kicking off simultaneously and four teams in all -- Minerva Punjab, NEROCA, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan -- in with a chance of winning the title. ESPN asked five current and former footballers, including national captain Sunil Chhetri, who they think might breast the tape on Thursday afternoon.

Who holds the edge?

Sunil Chhetri (98 caps for India, four I-League titles as player): I think East Bengal had the advantage...

Minerva ahead but title race alive till last kick of season

Less than a year ago, they were battling to avoid the wooden spoon. Now, Minerva Punjab go into the final round as favourites to win the I-League

East Bengal played out a thrilling 2-2 draw away to Shillong Lajong on Monday, keeping them in fourth place in the I-League -- level on points with Mohun Bagan (30) but still behind due to an inferior head-to-head.

This means four teams are still in with a shout of winning the I-League on March 8 -- easily the most going into the final day of the national league. (In 2004-05, East Bengal, Dempo and Sporting Clube de Goa all entered the last day with a mathematical chance of clinching the title.)...

The I-League's four-horse race

As the race to the I-League title enters its final few laps, what was expected to be a canter for Minerva Punjab has been complicated as the erstwhile table toppers stumbled to a loss in their last two home games. As it stands, four teams - NEROCA, Minerva, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan -- are in with a shot at the title.

Where they stand

 

NEROCA 31 points with one game to go

Minerva 29 points with three games to go

East Bengal 26 points with three games to go

Mohun Bagan 24 points with three...

I-League set to kick off under Indian Super League's shadow

Aizawl FC celebrate their 2016-17 I-League title
Aizawl FC celebrate their 2016-17 I-League title

Ever since it began three seasons ago as a month-long 'festival of football', the Indian Super League has steadily eaten into the relevance previously enjoyed by the I-League - for long the undisputed top league in India. This year the ISL secured the right to be held as a 'proper' league over four months. With it - it won over most of the country's best Indian footballers and poached an I-League club as well. And while the I-League was thrown a bone by being telecast on Star Sports, the juiciest...