I-League: Aizawl FC rally past East Bengal to go top of table
Pune [India], Mar.8 (ANI): Laldanmawia Ralte struck a decisive second-half goal as Aizawl FC fended off Kingfisher East Bengal 1-0 to surge to the top of the I-League points table at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex here last evening.
Khalid Jamil's side had to dig deep to finally get the better of the home team, who could have scored a late equaliser but Lalrinzuala's profligacy in front of the goal cost them a vital point at home.
DSK Shivajians, without a win in their last 5 matches in the ongoing Hero I-League, made three changes to the side which faced Chennai City in the last game week. At the back, Serbian Sasa Kolunija replaced Ricky Lallawmawma; while under-22 player Jerry Lalrinzuala was introduced from the start along with Ongnam Milan Singh.
The visitors' manager Khalid Jamil made no changes to his starting line-up from the side's 2-0 win against Mumbai FC at home last time.
Aizawl started the game with good intensity, pushing DSK Shivajians on the backfoot early on; but lacked penetration in their passing around the opposition's 18-yard-box. While Shivajians looked threatening, particularly down the left flank, from where the side's first real chance came as Narzary's header was pushed away by Gomes.
Although the hosts had a variety of good chances to take the lead in the half, they failed to act sharply and failed to bring precision in the final third of the field.
DSK Shivajians, slowly and steadily, began to take matters into their hand and as the half-hour mark passed, they began to take control of the proceedings. Narzary looked in good spirit and seemed to have been central to the host's gameplay as an attacking outlet, but they faltered in the final third.
Past the half-hour mark, Biaklian Paite's failed to find the back of an open net, to leave him red faced on 31 minutes. As the match reached the close the first half, a series of attempts were cleared off by Gomes in goal for Aizawl, who denied DSK from taking the lead and kept his team in the match.
As the proceedings unfurled in the second half, the home team continued to display their attacking flair with much superiority in their gameplay continuing with the moment from the first 45 minutes.
With neither side making any real changes in the final third, both managers decided to bring on pairs of fresh legs in the final twenty minutes at the Balewadi Stadium.
Eventually, against the run of play Laldanmawia Ralte broke the deadlock in the 85th minute, courtesy of some neat build-up play down the left flank, which cleared the path of Ralte for an easy tap-in to get the better of Subrata 'Spiderman' Paul.
With the immaculate win, Aizawl FC (29) go two points clear of Kingfisher East Bengal (27) at the top while DSK Shivajians continue to lurch at the seventh spot with 11 points from 13 matches.(ANI)