I-League: Shillong Lajong earns a crucial win at home

Shillong Lajong FC shrugged off an indifferent show in the first half to defeat arch-rival Aizawl FC 2-1 in the North East derby at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to earn a crucial win in I league here on Monday.

Shillong Lajong players celebrate the victory.   -  AIFF

Shillong Lajong FC shrugged off an indifferent show in the first half to defeat arch-rival Aizawl FC 2-1 in the North East derby at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to earn a crucial win in I league here on Monday.

Cote D’Ivorie striker Abdoulaye Koffi, who came as a substitute at the start of the second half for Kynsailang Khongsit, opened scoring for Lajong. He headed in a cross from Swedish striker Saihou Jagne in the 56th minute. Saihou capped a fine day for him by scoring his team’s second goal in the 73rd minute with a solo effort. In the eight minutes of extended time, Aizawl pulled one back when Ziakahi Leonce Dodoz scored in a goalmouth melee in the 95th minute.

Needing a win to avoid relegation, Shillong Lajong was a transformed side in the second half and attacked from the start. The newfound aggression of the home team had visitor — which put up a good show in the first half — back pedalling. The sustained pressure yielded the goal in the 56th minute. Though Aizawl hit back through a few threatening moves goalkeeper Nidhin Lal proved to be tough nut to crack under the bar.

The host went ahead in the 73rd minute when Swedish striker Saihou Jagne stole the ball from a Aizawl defender and advanced into the box and placed the ball beyond goalkeeper Avilash Paul’s reach with a right footer.

Aizawl refused to be cowed down and attacked but could only find a goal late in the second half as Lajong kept its impressive record against Mizoram side intact.

Compared to the thrilling second half, the first half was uninspiring with both sides refusing to be adventurous. However, Aizawl started and ended the first half on a strong note and it was unlucky not to go ahead in the first half.

Lajong hardly looked the side in urgency, choosing caution over aggression and relied more on counters to attack the rival goal. But the Aizawl defence was a cohesive unit and nipped the threat from getting dangerous before it entered the box. Moreover, Lajong’s key striker Nigerian Daniel Odafin was kept on a tight leash by Liberian Alfred Jaryan as host struggled to create an impression.

Lajong was lucky not to concede an early goal when defender Kenstar lost the ball to Aizawl’s Cote Dívore striker Zikahi Leonce Dodoz inside the box. But the striker’s left footer was weak and allowed goalkeeper Nidhin Lal to palm away the shot for a corner.

Towards the end of the first half, Aizawl again threatened to score when it earned a free-kick just outside the box but David Lakinwuana’s curling right footer just missed the mark by a whisker. With this win, Lajong took its points tally to 21 points from 17 matches and stay in the firth place while Aizwal has 18 from 15 matches and are placed sixth.

The result

Shillong Lajong FC 2 (Abdoulaye Koffi 56, Saihou Jagne 73) bt Aizawl FC 1 (Zikahi Leonce Dodoz 95)