The Super Cup’s Round of 16 couldn’t have begun on a better note at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar today. 2016/17 I-League champions Aizawl FC kick-started their campaign defeating the 2017/18 ISL champions Chennaiyin FC in a nail-biting penalty shootout 5-3 (2-2). Romanian Midfielder Andrei Ionescu (22′ & 91′) scored both the goals for Aizawl FC while Brazilian Mailson Alves (89′) and Dhanachandra Singh (115′) scored for Chennayin FC within the regulation time and extra-time.
The first half began with Aizawl FC going on an attacking mode from the first minute. Their first attempt at the Chennayin FC goal came in the second minute through Afghan Masih Saighani, but they failed to find the back of the net. Aizawl FC were soon lucky enough to get another chance to score through a free-kick just a couple of minutes later from just outside the goal box, but the shot yielded no results, landing safely in the hands of Chennaiyin FC goalkeeper Karanjit Singh. The first half thereafter saw a series of attack from Aizawl FC but they failed to convert any of their chances.
Aizawl FC’s then drew first blood in the 22nd minute when Romanian Andrei Ionescu made a brilliant run through the scattered Chennaiyin FC defence, giving the 2016/17 I-League champions a much-needed lead in the game. Chennaiyin FC, however, tried coming back through a few coordinated attacks but they couldn’t make way past the Aizawl FC defenders. The very entertaining first half came to an end with Aizawl FC having a lone goal advantage over Chennaiyin FC.
Aizawl FC continued with their attacking game in the second half but failed to capitalise on their lead. However, on the other hand, Chennaiyin FC made some coordinated attempts and but some very brave saves from Aizawl FC goalkeeper Arup Debnath ensured that his team maintained their solitary goal lead, but Chennaiyin FC finally breathed a sigh of relief in the 89th minute through a cracking goal from Brazilian Mailson Alves. Chennaiyin FC thereafter kept pressing on the opponent’s side but failed to get a lead within the regulation time.
Romanian Andrei Ionescu reinstated Aizawl FC’s lead (2-1) with a fantastic goal beating the Chennaiyin FC defence in the very first minute of extra-time. The first half of extra-time ended with Aizawl FC leading 2-1 against Chennayin FC. The second half of the extra-time saw both the sides taking close chances but it was Dhanachandra Singh’s ground shot from just outside the box that gave Chennaiyin FC the much-needed equaliser in the 115th minute taking the game into a penalty shootout.
The match went into a shootout which saw both teams being tested for their mental strength as Aizawl FC held their nerve whereas Indian Super League champions Chennaiyin FC missed one penalty in the form of Mohammed Rafi which finally cost them the match.
Andrei Ionescu was adjudged the Hero of the Match having scored both the goals for Aizawl FC.
Chennaiyin FC 2-2 Aizawl FC
(C: Mailson Alves 89′, Dhanachandra Singh 115′; A: Andrei Ionescu 22′,91′)
Chennaiyin FC: 3 (Bikramjit Singh, Dhanapal Ganesh, Dhanachandra Singh)
Aizawl FC: 5 (Andrei Ionescu, Leonce Zikahi Dodoz, Masih Saighani, Kimkima, M-Ka)