Eastern Sporting Union, Rising Students Club in IWL final
New Delhi, Feb 11 (IANS) Eastern Sporting Union (ESU) and Rising Students Club entered the final of inaugural Indian Womens League (IWL) football championship after posting victories over Alakhpura FC (4-1) and FC Pune City (2-0) in the semi-finals here on Saturday.
Kamala Devi’s hat-trick (39th, 84th, 90th minutes) and a strike from Kashmina (11th) powered Eastern Sporting Union to the final. Alakhpura pulled a goal back through Sanju in the 60th minute.
In the other semi-final at the Ambedkar Stadium, goals from AIFF Player of the Year 2016 Sasmita Malik (30th) and AIFF Player of the Year 2015 Pyari Xaxa (65th) led Rising Students to a hard fought win over Pune City.
In the match between Eastern Sporting and Alakhpura, although end-to-end action ensued in the opening minutes of the match, it was the north eastern outfit which had the better opportunities. In the fifth minute, Kamala’s shot was saved by the Alakhpura custodian. However, Alakhpura also fostered some decent goal scoring chances, even though only from distance.
In the 11th minute, Sanju burst through the ESU defence line and Panthoi Chanu saved her shot from more than 20 yards out acrobatically. In the 17th minute, Kashmina gave the lead to ESU when she sidestepped her marker and slotted the ball into the back of the net.
Kamala doubled ESU’s lead in the 39th minute when her left footed shot from outside of the box left the Alakhpura custodian wrongfooted and crashed into the back of the net as they led 2-0 at half-time.
Changing over, Kamala came close to tripling ESU’s lead when her half volley was palmed away by the opposition custodian, minutes before her shot hit the woodwork in the 48th minute.
In the 55th minute, Sanju came close to reducing Alakhpura’s deficit when she ran onto goal, but with only the opposition custodian to beat, she placed her shot wide of the goal.
Alakhpura did not have to wait much longer and five minutes later, following a meele in the box, Sanju poked the ball home to makes it 2-1. Nisha had a chance to put things on level terms in the 70th minute but she failed to make a proper connection with the shot.
With Alakhpura riding high on morale, Eastern Sporting Union committed bodies into defence as their opponents started to dominate proceedings.
However Kamala scored in the 84th minute and the 90th minute to quell all hopes of a comeback as the full-time scoreline read 4-1 in ESU’s favour.
In the other match, Cuttack-based Rising Students started as the favourites and proved the tag as they attacked from the whistle. In the fifth minute, Sasmita came close to taking the lead when she latched onto a Pyari through ball on the flanks, but failed to score from a narrow angle.
Four minutes later, Anju Tamang failed to hit the target from inside the box as Rising Students pressed for an early goal. The early goal, however eluded Rising Students as chances upfront were often miscued, whilst Pune City relied on counter-attacks to test Rising Students citadel.
The goal however did come for Rising Students in the 30th minute and in a bizarre fashion when Sasmita’s corner kick hit the woodwork and went in to give Rising Students a solitary goal lead.
Rising Students almost doubled their lead in the 55th minute when Anju rushed to take advantage of an onrushing opponent custodian but could only chip it over her.
In the 65th minute, Pyari slotted her shot comfortably past the opposition custodian to double Rising Students’ lead after she latched onto a through ball from the midfield.
Pune City tried to break the midfield and defence of Rising Students through counter-attacks but failed to create anything substantial.
Shots from long range seldom threatened Rising Students’ defence as they walked out winners.
The final will be on Tuesday.