Kathmandu: India’s Minerva Punjab’s search for their first win in the 2019 AFC Cup continued as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Nepal’s Manang Marshyangdi Club in a Group E tie on Wednesday.
The Indian side were forced to play with 10 men in the second half after losing Prateek Joshi to a red card just before the half-time whistle.
Manang Marshyangdi began the first half well as they starved Minerva of possession but the Indian side looked effective whenever they got a chance with the ball.
Samuel was particularly impressive in the wings early on. His first attempt was thwarted by a diving tackle from Bishal Rai in the wings but in the eighth minute, he produced an impressive long range effort that came off the bar.
Two minutes later, Thoiba Singh produced a similar effort but ended up with the same result.
Minutes later, Olapido brought down Minerva’s young goalkeeper Arsh Singh while going for an aerial ball in the box. The latter received medical attention while Olapido was shown the yellow card.
In the 28th minute, Samuel dodged past Kamal Shreshtha to create space for himself in the box but ended up depositing the shot into the arms of Marshyangdi goalkeeper Bishal Shrestha.
Thoiba, however, made the most of a slip-up by Shreshtha a couple of minutes later as he sent a cross from Hassan past the Marshyangdi goalkeeper to give Minerva the first goal in the 40th minute.
Seconds before the half-time, though, Minerva were a man down when Joshi received a red card.
Up against a reduced side in the second half, the Nepalese club created more chances. Arsh Singh was kept busy in the early part of the half, especially by Anjan Bista.
The match, however, turned on its head when Marshyangdi equalised through Shaheed Azeez in the 81st minute, Azeez calmly heading a long ball home in a crowded box.
The Indian club then had a goal denied minutes before the final whistle which ensured their streak of draws in the tournament remained unbroken.
Minerva will next be seen in action against Chennaiyin FC on Matchday Five while Manang Marshyangdi will play Dhaka Abahani.