Holders Churchill Brothers of Goa, down to 10 men in the last 25 minutes, held former champions Mahindra United of Mumbai to a 1-1 draw in the opening match of the I-League at the Cooperage football ground in Mumbai on Thursday.
The encounter, played in hot and humid conditions, saw both the goals scored by League debutants and foreigners in the first half.
Svetozar Mijin of Serbia scored for Mahindras and Japan's Dian Ito found the net for the defending champions.
Both were close range efforts, Mijin stabbing in a ball that came off Churchill defender Robert Lalthlamuana's leg in the 25th minute and Ito booting home a superb diagonal cross into the goalmouth from teammate Denzil Franco, seven minutes later.
The second half was dominated by the local outfit and Churchill's first-choice custodian Arindam Bhattacharya was given the marching orders in the 65th minute for stopping the ball with his hand when he was outside the penalty box.
Arindam was sent off by referee Pratap Singh for the infringement and Churchill not only had to introduce their reserve goalkeeper Lalit Thapa but were forced to pull out experienced medio Khan Thang Paite too to make the change.
Despite being reduced to 10 men, Durand and IFA Shield winners Churchill warded off all the dangers posed by Mahindras with aplomb to share two points with their local rivals. PTI