Aizawl FC defeated I-League champion Bengaluru FC 2-1 in the first match of its maiden Federation Cup campaign at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Aizwal, Mizoram today.
Joel Sunday’s 90th minute goal proved to be the difference between the two sides after Alfred Kemah had cancelled out Eugeneson Lyngdoh’s 15th minute goal, as both teams went into the tunnel level at half-time.
With Aizwal FC notching up a win, the onus lies on Bengaluru FC to perform in the second leg of the fixture which is slated to kick-off on May 3.
Speaking at the post-match press conference, Bengaluru FC Head Coach Ashley Westwood asserted that his side can foster a comeback in the reverse fixture, "We had several chances, and could have led by 4 goals. There is a cent percent chance that we will have a comeback and get through this round."
Meanwhile, Aizawl FC Head Coach Jahar Das was all smiles after upsetting the ‘Champions of India’. "We deserved this win as we played a good game. We are looking forward to the second leg and will play to the best of our abilities”
In the opening minutes of the match, it was Bengaluru FC which nearly took the lead with some fluent attacking football. Sunil Chhetri’s threatening corner resulted in a coming together of bodies in the Aizawl penalty box, but the Aizwal defence stood strong and made a goal line clearance to deny Bengaluru FC an early lead.
In the 10th minute, Eugeneson Lyngdoh’s brilliant free-kick was met with John Johnson’s thumping header and earned an acrobatic save by Poirei. The resulting corner saw the Bengaluru FC duo team up again and Lyngdoh’s delivery made contact with Johnson’s right boot, rattling the Aizwal FC woodwork.
Aizawl had its first proper shot minutes later when Yuta shot from 30 yards away, but the ball went over the bar.
In the 15th minute, Eugeneson Lyngdoh's shot from distance ended up in the back of the Aizawl FC net, leaving the custodian wrong-footed, as Bengaluru FC took the lead.
Minutes later, Lalchhawnkima had a chance to score an equalizer for his team through a set piece but the away keeper Amrinder blocked the ball with great ease. Joel Sunday, assisted by Yuta, fired a shot that went over and did not challenge Amrinder. Moments later, Brandon’s curling shot went wide of the goal after he dribbled his way into the box.
Joel Sunday showed off some exquisite skills with the ball when he made his way towards the away box, gliding past three Bengaluru defenders, but he failed to score as his shot went wide.
The attacking moves made by Aizawl FC eventually bore fruit when Alfred's shot found its mark in the 38th minute changing the scoreline to 1-1. Alfred's left foot shot assisted by Lalchhawnkima made its way into the net in the bottom corner rendering Amrinder helpless.
Aizawl FC continued to attack and missed more chances just minutes before the first half ended with a 1-1 scoreline.
However, it continued its momentum in the second half and the Reds fostered a goal-scoring opportunity in the 48th minute when Brandon’s cross found Albert clear of the defensive mix inside the box. The latter failed to make the most out of it as another chance went begging.
In the 57th minute, Udanta Singh’s rocket-of-a-shot from distance, was met with a strong fist by Poirei as Bengaluru FC continued its search for another goal.
Nine minutes later, Aizwal FC was awarded with a golden opportunity to take the lead but Alfred failed to tap the ball in, after successfully beating Amrinder Singh in a one versus one situation. Substitute Daniel Lalhlimpuia showed his prowess on the pitch when he drove the ball into the box and prepared himself for a shot but was tackled by Emma denying him his chance.
Not to be deterred, Aizwal FC continued its hunt for the winning goal and in the 90th minute, Joel Sunday lit up the faces of fans in the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium as he blasted his opportunity home to make the scoreline read 2-1 in Aizwal’s favour.
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