Aizawl FC outlasted a spirited late charge from Gokulam Kerala FC to secure a 3-2 victory and claim its second win of the I-League, here at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium on Saturday.
A barren opening session was followed by an exciting second half. Ansumana Kromah started the scoring process early after the break and Aizawl FC added two more through Lalkhawpuimawia and Rochhar Zela to soar to a 3-0 lead by the 90th minute. Gokulam staged a late comeback and bagged two quick goals through substitute Joel Sunday in injury time to come within sniffing distance of a draw.
The opening half saw both sides on an even keel when it came to staging attacks. Fielding three new players picked up from the Mizoram Premier League clubs, Aizawl FC played a more offensive game. Both sides had their share of chances but none could find the target owing to a fine display by the goalkeepers at the opposing ends and sloppiness of the attackers.
The visitor had a great chance in the 27th minute when a Castro free-kick found Pritam Singh a few yards from the Aizawl goal. The Gokulam winger failed to get a connection and ended up with a booking instead for trying to use his hands to score.
Things turned Aizawl FC’s way after the beak as it doubled its attacks. The home side took the lead in the 51st minute when Kromah made the most of a loose ball coming from the midfield. Hungry to extend its lead, Aizawl piled on the pressure and found the second in the 63rd minute when an assist from new recruit Lalrinchhana saw Lalkhawpuimawia finding the back of the net. Zela appeared to have sealed the tie when he scored Aizawl's third goal in the 70th minute.
Just when the host defence appeared to be resting on the oars in the injury-time, Sunday utilised the opportunity to reduce the margin in the third minute of added time. Gokulam earned a penalty in the final minute of the added time and Sunday coolly converted from the spot.
However, it wasn't enough as the ninth-placed Aizawl claimed all three points while the eighth-placed Gokulam Kerala remains winless in its last five matches.
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