Punjab United Wolves lifted the 11th annual SBOBET UK Asian Community Cup at the Boleyn Ground following a thrilling 3-2 victory over Bury Park Saracens on Wednesday night.

Punjab United were twice pegged back after going in front, but Razwan Akhtar came off the substitutes' bench to notch the winner and give his side the trophy in front of a crowd which included Member of Parliament for East Ham Stephen Timms and dignitaries from the Football Association and Professional Footballers' Association.

It marked the end of a successful journey for the team from Wolverhampton, who came through the preliminary rounds at the Hammers' Rush Green complex last month to secure their place in the final against their Luton-based opponents.

The tournament has been backed by SBOBET and supported by The Canary Wharf Group, as West Ham worked alongside organisers London Tigers to host the tournament through its preliminary and final stages.

It aims to provide Asian players a chance to play in professional stadiums and be spotted by scouts, and for matchwinner Akhtar, playing at the Boleyn Ground was an unforgettable experience.

He said: "It's the best feeling ever and I'm really glad. We did well throughout the rounds and we deserved to come through to the final and win.

"It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to play at West Ham, and I think it's a great achievement from us. We've got a big squad, who have been utilised [throughout the competition], they've been part of it and that's the reason we're here.

"Before I got subbed on, I was doing my prayers saying 'let me get the winner'. If I got three or four chances I'd have been more than happy and there you have it, we've taken the trophy."

London Tigers, the tournament organisers, is an innovative, award-winning organisation which works across London and beyond to provide sporting and life opportunities for disadvantaged communities.

Its chief executive Mesba Ahmed said: "The SBOBET UK Asian Community Cup is a national event involving teams from Glasgow to Preston, Wolverhampton, Birmingham and London.

"The prelim of 16 teams whittled it down to the two teams who competed in the final and it was a dream come true for them to play at West Ham.

"Playing the final in a pro stadium is more important than anything else, because it allows them to feel like superstars.

"Having it in the heart of the Asian community in east London was a crowd-puller. For some of the people here, it would have been their first time in a stadium like this.

"For West Ham to provide an opportunity like that, brings the community closer."

Deputy chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association and former West Ham United winger Bobby Barnes was also delighted to lend his support to the event.

He said: "This is a very important part of the Club's work in the community. I've been fortunate enough to come to the previous two finals at Stamford Bridge and Loftus Road, so it was particularly nice to be at the Boleyn Ground on Wednesday.

"Obviously there is a very large Asian community in the area around the ground and it's positive to see the Club engaging and putting something into creating some strong links with that community.

"It's great when Premier League clubs throw their doors open and give people that opportunity to play at the stadium. It's something they will remember for a very long time."

Picture by AZ Images