RoundGlass Punjab FC 4 (CK Vineeth 38’, Joseba 43’, Kurtis Guthrie 90+2’, Bikash Yumnam 90+4’)
Aizawl FC 3 (David Zate 24’, Ramhlunchhunga 40’, Dipanda Dicka 47’)
RoundGlass Punjab produced late drama against Aizawl FC by scoring two goals in injury time of the second half to edge out Aizawl FC 4-3 in a 7-goal thriller at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium. RoundGlass Punjab left it very late to find a winner, after coming from behind three times in the contest to land a crushing blow against their valiant opponents on the evening.
Aizawl FC made the early running in the game, keeping possession of the ball to good effect and moving their opposition across the pitch. Despite being in the ascendency, Aizawl almost faced an early setback on the eighth minute when CK Vineeth ran in behind their backline to bear down on the goal. Vineeth was expected to test the goalkeeper at the least from this promising position, but could not sort his feet out in time to evade the onrushing Muansanga.
The side from Mizoram continued to look the better of the two teams in the opening exchanges and earned their due reward on the 24th minute, albeit with a healthy slice of luck. The Aizawl midfield played a searching ball for striker David Zate to chase in the opponents’ box, which was inadvertently deflected away from RoundGlass goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte. David Zate was left with the easiest task of sliding the ball into the unguarded net to give underdogs Aizawl FC a deserved lead.
Ashley Westwood’s RoundGlass Punjab side levelled the contest on the 38th minute. Their wing play finally bore fruit when captain Bikash Yumnam stood up a cross from the right flank. Goalkeeper Lalmuansanga misjudged the flight of the ball, leaving CK Vineeth to rise above everyone else and head the ball into the back of the net.
The parity lasted for a matter of seconds, as Aizawl scored through Ramhlunchhunga in the very next attack of the game on the 40th minute. He arrived in the box at the right time and scored opportunistically by slotting it into the bottom corner off the woodwork.
The side from Punjab created another golden opportunity to come back into the game on the 43rd minute. CK Vineeth was brought down inside the box by a lunging tackle from Lalthakima Ralte. Joseba Beitia stepped up to take the responsibility from 12 yards, and his penalty kick was nearly saved by Lalmuansanga. However, his outstretched arm was not enough to stop the ball from finding the net, and scores became level again at 2-2 going into the break.
The contest remained unaffected by the pause, as the second half kicked off in the same vein as the first period. Aizawl FC were the benefactors of a penalty kick this time, which was converted unerringly by front man Dipanda Dicka in the 47th minute for the fifth and final goal of the game.
This wasn’t the last of the edge-of-the-seat action in the game, however, as RoundGlass Punjab’s sustained pressure to come back into the game a third time paid dividends when Aizawl full back Vanlalnghenga received a second yellow card for a foul on Travis Major on the 72nd minute to reduce the Mizoram side to 10 men.
Aizawl goalkeeper Lalmuansanga, who had a difficult first half, came out trumps in the second period as he produced a string of saves over the half to keep his side narrowly in the lead. Having to play with a player less in the final quarter of the game, Aizawl FC showed plenty of resolve to stay in the contest until the dying minutes. Striker Dipanda Dicka had a golden opportunity to put the game to bed in the 88th minute, and after completing the hardest part, Dicka was unable to find the target one-on-one against the goalkeeper from 7 yards out.
As luck would have it, Aizawl FC would rue this opportunity as the game turned on its head in added time of the second half. Kurtis Guthrie headed home a Travis Major cross in the 92nd minute to bring RoundGlass Punjab back to level terms for a third time in the match. This was the Englishman’s sixth goal of the Hero I-League season, putting him on top of the goal scoring charts.
RoundGlass Punjab skipper Bikash Yumnam then broke Aizawl FC hearts in the 94th minute with a heroic glancing header that steered into the far corner to seal a blockbuster 4-3 win for his side, thereby sparking off wild celebrations on the touchline.
Aizawl FC play their next match against Sudeva Delhi at the Naihati Stadium on Tuesday, March 15, while RoundGlass Punjab face Sreenidi Deccan on the same day at the Kalyani Stadium.
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