Sudeva Delhi FC 1 (Nishchal Chandan 4’)
Aizawl FC 2 (Lalliansanga 90+1’, 90+3’)
NAIHATI: A dramatic finish to the encounter between Sudeva Delhi FC and Aizawl FC saw the side from Mizoram emerge with their first win of Hero I-League 2021-22. After falling behind to an early Nishchal Chandan goal, Aizawl FC scored two goals in injury time of the second half through substitute Lalliansanga.
Sudeva Delhi FC struck early through Nishchal Chandan in the 4th minute. The unlikely centre-back pairing of Ruatkima and Nishchal Chandan combined to give Sudeva the lead, as Ruatkima showed composure to deliver a measured cross to his defensive partner Nishchal in the Aizawl FC box. Nishchal saw off the attention from the Aizawl FC defenders and sent a towering header back across goal that left Aizawl goalkeeper Anuj Kumar with no chance.
The early setback piled further pressure onto bottom side Aizawl FC, who were yet to open their account on the points table in this season of the Hero I-League. With their backs to the wall, Aizawl FC showed signs of a spirited fight back, led by the efforts of striker Dipanda Dicka.
In the 14th minute, Aizawl FC strung together a few neat passes in a progressive passage of play which ended with Dipanda Dicka laying the ball off to Ayush Chhetri to strike from outside the box. Chhetri’s effort packed plenty of power, but not enough accuracy to trouble Sachin Jha in the Sudeva Delhi goal.
Aizawl had another opportunity to equalise in the 41st minute when a long pass aimed at Ayush Chhetri brought Sudeva keeper Sachin Jha off his line. After setting out to sweep away the attack, Sachin got nowhere near the ball and got caught in no man’s land outside his box. The ball fell to the youngster Ramhlunchhunga, but he could not make it two goals in two games for himself as the chance went begging.
The half time whistle brought respite to the players on a sweltering afternoon at the Naihati Stadium.
In the second half, neither team took full control of the game, but the onus lay on Aizawl FC to force the issue and level the contest. They had a chance again in the 56th minute from a set play, which was taken by MS Tluanga. His cross was a good one, but Robert Primus couldn’t find a convincing finish to level the score.
The game was characterised by several breaks in play and half chances falling sporadically to either side, with neither able to capitalise on them just yet.
However, there was to be plenty of late drama in the tie as Lalliansanga came off the bench for Aizawl FC to play the role of super-sub to full effect. In the 91st minute, Aizawl FC displayed intricate interplay and laid the ball off to Lalliansanga, who was patiently waiting at the edge of the box. Using defender Ruatkima as a screen, he bent the ball around him to slot his finish into the top corner. This was a strike worthy of gracing any game in world football.
With the wind in their sails, Aizawl FC completed the turn-around a minute later. It was Lalliansanga again, this time capitalising by pouncing onto a deflected shot that broke loose inside the box. Lalliansanga slid the ball into the back of the net to give Aizawl FC their first win of the Hero I-League season and take them out of bottom spot in the league table.