I-League 2019 Aizawl FC 0-0 Mohun Bagan, as it happened: Thrilling opener ends in goalless stalemate

Catch all the live updates, score and highlights from the I-League match between Aizawl FC and Mohun Bagan at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Aizawl.

Joseba Beitia will be seen leading the Bagan attack this season.   -  RAJEEV BHATT

Hello and welcome to the LIVE coverage of the I-League season opener between Aizawl FC and Mohun Bagan at Aizawl. This is Anirudh and I will be taking you through proceedings this afternoon.

The next game of the I-League will see Gokulam Kerala will take on NEROCA in Kochi. Do come back to catch up with updates, match reports and interviews from the league this season. For now, it's goodbye from us here at Sportstar.

FT AIZAWL FC 0 - 0 MOHUN BAGAN

Final whistle goes off and we have no goals for a thrilling opener.
First half belonged entirely to Mohun Bagan, while Aizawl pegged back in style in the second half. 53% possession was hogged by Mohun Bagan but Aizawl FC came back strong in the second half to counter the aggression Mohun Bagan showed at the start. Despite looking dominant, Aizawl's had two shots on target compared to one for Bagan. Both teams will be disappointed to not claim all three points and, for Bagan specifically, the injury to Naorem will be a small concern. Otherwise, absolute thriller to start the season.

Three minutes added.
The Indian Super League has had last minute goals. Will this tie see a similar result?
 

Substitution for Aizawl

Jonathan Lalrawngbawla and Techi Tatra come in for Lalhmangaihkima and William Lalnunfela.


82' FLAGGED!
Lovely link-up play from Julen and Beitia, but offiside rules will not help the joy

Suhair has been quiet this half. He began proceedings, pressing the frontline to go for the choices that may not always be readily available. Mohun Bagan needs that zest back if it wants to score.

We are into the final 10 minutes of regulation time.

Julen finds Beitia, lovely back and forth between the two. The Aizawl defenders come in the way. "Enough is enough," they decide and cast the ball away to safety. Julen is down though, he has been pressing his toe right from that down the field. Some discomfort there but he's up on his feet and walking off to play. Seems alright and that's all that matters for Bagan now.

Bagan seems to be trying anything and everything at this point. Desperation here to get a goal on that score sheet and secure the points.

80' Oh Julen. Suddenly charges with the ball into the Aizawl half, defenders are away, goalkeeper caught offguard, but that ball goes way off the goalpost. If that was placed right, Bagan would be 1-0 up. Beautiful charge there. Dominance.

The drums are still beating but the chants have died down in this second half. The sun is out and so we have a generous shadow over much of the field.

71' Oh Suhair is down and the referee has a card out. Aizawl captain Joe Zoherliana has been booked.

69' Oh that's going to earn a booking.
Isak gets tackled by Gurjinder Kumar, who is clearly stepping out with a lazy foot to stop the Isak. Set piece opportunity for Aizawl. Aizawl gets a corner from the right but no enough to penetrate the MB line. Put away by Bagan. Oh the follow-up has given the home side a corner again. Inconsequential to proceedings though. Aizawl is taking this game to Bagan, testing the opponent through and through.

67' What is Aizawl's love affair with the side netting?
Zoherliana manages a cross to go close to the side netting but Gonzalez is taking no chances. In comes the boot to deflect a ball that wouldn't have caused damage anyway. Debjit cleans it up to complete a good save.

Injury concerns there for Mohun Bagan. Naorem has been good the team today, with his crosses, pace through the field and how he has managed to feed the Spanish frontline. Let's hope it's not anything serious.  Looks like a hamstring niggle, as far as we can see. Keep watching this space for updates.

SUBSTITUTION MOHUN BAGAN: Three substitutions one after the other

Morante out, Salvador Perez Martinez in.

Britto off, SK Sahil in.

Naorem has also taken a hit and he is being stretchered off. SK Faiaz comes in to substitute the man.


Tables have turned. Aizawl is controlling the ball in this half. Good crosses too in the midfield especially. What's lacking - finishes.

56' Beitia down. Dangerous tackle that and in a dangerous place on the field.  FREE KICK TO MOHUN BAGAN.
Can Beitia manage to score? Nope. The ball defended away and Aizawl manages to steal it and run down on the counter but Debjit is waiting to ruin the party. He leaves his line to clear the ball away from creating any more trouble.

52' FREE KICK TO AIZAWL.
There's a tackle on Paul Ramfangzauva by Gonzalez Munoz and that has earned Aizawl a free kick. Munoz won't get booked for this and he is there apologising and patting Paul on the head apologetically. Paul gears up to get a good clearance but hits it straight at Bagan's human wall. Aizawl has come back in this second half a lot stronger than they were in the first. Better tactics but the finishes are still poor. This is not going to help with the goals but is giving the boys the confidence to take risks, something they did not do in the first half.

48'
Menacing from Mohun Bagan - three frontline players are trying to negotiate the ball here in Aizawl's half and we have a flurry of red shirts coming in to defend the goalpost. Absolutely menacing from Mohun Bagan. The ball has been thwarted away. No harm done, Aizawl breathes easy.

46' OH NO NO NO. Timed that wrong and Aizawl finds itself hitting the side netting.
Was that Isak Vanlalruatfela? Oh disappointment there for Aizawl. Had that gone in, Mohun Bagan would have found itself in a little trouble.



HALF-TIME WRAP:
Referee blows the whistle. We had two minutes of added time with nothing significant happening. At half-time, we still don't have a goal on either side of this score sheet. Mohun Bagan has been the better side by a mile but the host is clawing its way back into this time, a little too slowly for our liking though. The defence has been shoddy and Mohun Bagan has made merry as a result. The possession favours the visitor - 54%, which actually does not reflect what we've seen in the first 45 minutes. With 46% possession, Aizawl has not managed much, but most of that has come towards the end of the first half. Six fouls from Mohun Bagan but also six attempts to find the back of the net. Competitive. Surprisingly though, Aizawl has two shots on target, while the visitor has just one. We head into the second half with no goal to show. Who will break the deadlock?

The player there was William Lalnunfela

44' HOW DID AIZAWL MISS THAT?
Britto's cross finds a player in the red silks. I cannot see who the player is yet. Let me wait for the replay. He brings it right into the box and kicks it in a direction that isn't into the net. What was that, Aizawl? A little collision with the keeper, Debjit Majumder and he is on the ground. Ball is kicked off into the right corner where Aizawl tries to retrieve but kicked away by Daniel Cyrus who has a wide smile on his face for just how easy that was. Medics are in to give him some attention.

I had a moment of panic there. Our broadcast suddenly cut to a PSG game. Wondering where the scenic landscapes of the Northeast went was a slightly disorienting shock mid-game. But we're back and no harm done.

34' Untidy from Aizawl. Isak runs down the left flank but where was he looking? That cross goes haywire. The two players in the box do not look happy.

Oh that's good defending from Aizawl. Gonzalez and Naorem have linked up with Britto but the defence blocks the boys from Bengal from getting any further in the box. We're seeing some action in that Aizawl midfield. Has the home team figured out Mohun Bagan's link-up formula?

25' Oh and that's the first chance for the home side. But Debjit Majumdar is not letting anything pass him. Easy save for the keeper. Aizawl is slowly starting to find its feet in this game though.

22'
That's poor passing from Kassaga, there's a Mohun Bagan player right there waiting to snap up the ball and kick it off to their end. Aizawl found wanting. I must add that we're finally seeing the ball breach the one-half play we've been seeing all along. Aizawl needs to step on that pedal if it has to match Mohun Bagan's intensity today.

Unnecessary push there on the Aizawl keeper by Beitia and Morante. Aizawl, however, is not able to capitalise on the opportunities presented to score. The ball finds itself back in its half in no time.

19' And we have our first yellow. Morante gets booked for a foul. Aizawl gets a free kick. Can the set piece help them gain some ground?
 

Here's a quick look at the subs for both sides today.

Aizawl FC: Lal Chungnunga (6), Techi Tatra (15), Ayush Dev Chhetri (16), Jonathan Lalrawngbawla (17), Melory Laldinsanga (25), Lal Biakzuala (28), Lalawmpuia (44)

Mohun Bagan: Ashutosh Mehta (6), Salvador Perez Martinez (9), Alexander Romario Jesuraj (11), Shilton Paul (22), Dhanachandra Leihaorungbam (25), SK Sahil (27), SK Faiaz (47)


18' CHANCE.
A kick from the far corner and a header that misses. If I am counting right, attempt #6-7 from he visitor to breach the defence and find a goal here. Aizawl has been kept quiet all through so far. So far.

I personally feel robbed of the experience of one entire side of this beautiful stadium because this game is only being played in one half. Mohun Bagan clearly dominating play this afternoon.

16' NEARLY!
Pressure from Mohun Bagan! Brito's cross from the right flank finds Julen who whips a header but that is saved brilliantly by the keeper. Phew. Off-side eitherway. Lalramhmunmawia will be patting himself on the back for that anyway.

Aizawl has been losing possession quickly in this first half and the Mohun Bagan frontline is hogging possession.

13' Suhair and Julen come together again to try and find the back of the net for Mohun Bagan. Britto finds Julen who brings the ball into the final third to Gonzalez but that's a miss there.

There is some home support coming Mohun Bagan's way with Lalramchullova representing the state here. He has been feeding Suhair and Julen and shown impressive pace so far.



8' OH ANOTHER ONE. WASTED. Mohun Bagan comes charging down the field with Naorem passing the ball to Suhair. Pure pace from the Palakkad man and he gets it into the box but not on Lalremruata's watch! He comes in the way and deflects the ball to safety for Aizawl.

4' CHANCE! Mohun Bagan starts on the front foot. Lovely one-two between Suhair Vadakkepeedika and Gonzalez Munoz, flicked comfortably towards the goal but the ball misses the near post.

My colleagues are having a great time assessing the look and feel of this opener, the crowd support is currently a lot louder than the commentator. The turnout is amazing and of course the home team has the crowd backing it.

"Looks like Real Madrid vs Liverpool," is what I am hearing in the newsroom now.

What sounds like a gunshots gets proceedings going.

Lineups:

Aizawl FC:
Lalremruata (GK-1), Juuko Richard Kassaga (5), Rochharzela (7), Paul Ramfangzauva (8), Isak Vanlalruatfela (11), Joe Zoherliana (14), Alfred Kemah Jaryan (20), Alfred Kemah Jaryan (21), C.Lalrosanga (24), Lalramhmunmawia (39), William Lalnunfela (49)

Head coach: Standly Rozario Henry

Mohun Bagan: Francisco Morante Martinez (GK-4), Gurjinder Kumar (5), Joseba Beitia Aguirregomezcorta (10), Lalramchullova (15), Nongdamba Naorem (16), Julen Colinas Olaizola (17), Suhair Vadakkepeedika (20), Debjit Majumder (24), Britto P M (33), Daniel Nicholas Cyrus (45), Francisco Javier Gonzalez Munoz (50)

Head coach: Kibu Vicuna

It's time for the national anthem.


Welcome everyone. Anirudh is a little held up on his way to work so you have me, Lavanya, for company. If any of you are following the I-League for the first time, welcome on board. We have an exciting tie ahead of us today for the season opener. Two former champions clash at the picturesque Rajiv Gandhi stadium this afternoon and will seek to begin their campaigns with a win.

The 2019-20 season of the Hero I-League kicks off on November 30. A total of 110 matches will be played across 17 weeks, with 45 foreign nationals taking part.

The newly-promoted TRAU FC will be one of the 11 participating clubs this season. For the first time in the I-League, there will be a derby separate from the famous Kolkata derby when TRAU FC locks horns with fellow Imphal club NEROCA FC.

Hero I-League | Full schedule, fixtures and where to watch

On Day One, Aizawl FC hosts Bagan in the afternoon at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Aizawl. Bagan has roped in Spaniard Kibu Vicuna this season along with a fleet of Spaniards in a clear departure from established norms. The side under Vicuna has been together for about five months now and have played at least three competitive tournaments going into Saturday’s opener.

'100 percent ready'

Ahead of the contest, head coach Jose Antonio Vicuna said, “We are working together almost five months. We have prepared the team to be 100 percent ready to play first game. We respect Aizawl because we know they are a good team and it’s going to be a tough match but we want to start well the competition and come back to Kolkata with three points.”

Aizawl, the 2016-17 champion, has managed to retain the nucleus of the side which turned up for it least season and has also made some new signings. The likes of Liberian defensive wall Alfred Jaryan and his partner Richard Kasagga of Uganda are still around and so are midfielders like David, Isac, Lalremsanga, Rocharzela. Aizawl even has William Lalnunfella back from a brief flirtation with Bagan. Ayush Dev Chetri and Techi Tatra are two young forwards who would be looking to make a mark if played.

Bagan, meanwhile, has a familiar Debjit back in goal, while Kim Kima and Arijit Bagui are a couple of familiar names which are likely to be seen in their defence line again. However, Bagan also has new foreign faces at the back in Trinidadian Daniel Cyrus and Spaniard Francisco Munoz. Fran Morante and Joseba Beitia are another couple of Spanish footballers who will be seen leading the Bagan attack this season.

WHERE TO WATCH: The I-League will be telecast on DSport.

Match details: Kickoff at 2pm, Aizawl.