Santosh Trophy: Mizoram upsets Goa with comeback win

Mizoram fought back from a one-goal deficit to defeat six-time champion Goa 3-1 in their Group B Santosh Trophy encounter.

Mizoram's Laldinpuia PC in action during his side's 3-1 win over Goa on Tuesday.   -  Debasish Bhaduri

Mizoram erased a goal’s deficit before piling up the misery on last year’s finalist Goa with a resounding 3-1 win in the opening Group B league match of the National Football Championship for the 72nd Santosh Trophy here at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium on Tuesday.

In the other match of the group played at the Municipal Corporation Stadium Howrah, Punjab scripted a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Odisha.

While for eight-time champion Punjab the comeback win came as a great relief, the spectacular turnaround by Mizoram caused a major upset as six-time champion Goa suffered a blow in its first outing. Goa captain Victorino Fernandes opened the scoring in the early in the first half but the lead was neutralised by F. Lalrinpuia, who equalised midway through.

Mizoram made a fine comeback after the break when Lal Romawia scored two quick goals towards the end to help the North-East side collect the full quota of points.

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The other match came alive after the interval when Odisha took the lead through Arpan Lakra. Sarbjit restored the parity for Punjab in the few later before an own goal by Odisha’s Rudra Pratap Pradhan sealed the match in the former champion’s favour.

Lal Romawia steals the show

laying true to its style, Goa dictated terms initially. After a couple of ineffective raids, the side found the opening in the 11th minute when Marcus Mascarenhas ran up the left flank and played a forward pass reaching Victorino Fernandes, who got the better of a couple of defenders before slotting the ball home.

Stung by the setback, Mizoram plotted a gradual recovery and found the Goa net in the 25th minute. The equaliser happened in a rather haphazard manner when winger Lalbiakhlua's first attempt was blocked by the Goa goalkeeper Ozen Vivian Silva. The loose ball came to Lalrinpuia, whose first attempt came off a Goa defender. The ball returned to the striker and he did not make any mistake with his second attempt.

Mizoram showed greater resolve after the change of ends and started exploring the the chinks in Goa’s defence. Lalremruata almost got the lead for Mizoram in the 49th minute but the crosspiece blocked his header. With Goa conceding the ball possession too easily, Mizoram grabbed the advantage as its under-21 midfielder Lal Romawia scored twice within three minutes in the last ten minutes of the action to realise the win.

The results:

Group B – Mizoram 3 (F. Lalrinpuia 25, Lal Romawia 81, 84) bt Goa 1 (Victorino Fernandes 11); Punjab 2 (Sarbjit 70, Rudra Pratap Pradhan 82-og) bt Odisha 1 (Arpan Lakra 62).