Aizawl FC wrote another chapter in their history tonight, having booked the final date of the Hero Federation Cup with the Mariners, owing to scoring more away goals. Aizawl FC found themselves in the driving seat twice, thanks to superb strikes by Joel Sunday and a composed penalty-kick by Kimkima but Sporting Goa came back into the match superbly courtesy the unsullied heading by Sumit Passi and the cheeky goal by Glan Martins.
Flaming Oranje kicked off their last home match of the season with a great intent and they came very close to scoring in the 3rd minute but Poirei showed excellent skill to parry it away. 2 minutes later, the visitors were awarded the first corner of the match. But a strong vigil by Sporting Goa defenders cost the visitors a chance to get their nose at the front within first 10 minutes.
The pace of the game mellowed down with time as both teams were seriously looking to encash on opponents’ slip-ups but there was hardly one. The game went a little scruffy but the seasoned referee Pranjol Banerjee handled it with his renowned authority, he flashed the first yellow card for Sumit Passi who brought down Alfred Jaryan harshly.
David Lalrinmuana was the major threat for Flaming Oranje’s defence and finally in the 37th minute, Joel Sunday found the back of the net from one immaculate long ball unleashed by none but David. Having collected the long ball, Sunday accelerated well and went pass the Sporting Goa defenders to tap the ball home.
2 minutes later, Sporting Goa came very close to draw parity on the scoreboard but Victorino Fernandes’ header went abegging. In the added minutes, Aizawl FC conceded a corner which was converted nicely by the lanky striker Sumit Passi. Pratesh Shirodkar took a loopy corner which was steered by the skipper Loveday towards Passi who scored the equaliser finally, sending the Sporting Goa bench into a delirium at the stroke of the half-time.
Both teams came out all guns blazing in the second half to seal the final date with the Mariners. The visitors took the lead once again just before the hour-mark from the 6-yard spot. Alfred delivered a juicy ball to David who was tripped inside the box and referee didn’t hesitate to award the spot-kick in the favour of the Highlanders, Kimkima eventually converted it to put one foot in the final.
To instill more vigour in the attacking third, Mateus Costa replaced Ganesh Thakur with Ndidi Chukwama. With time waning out, the hommies put more pressure on the visiting defenders and it became a test of character for the Aizawl FC defenders. David Lalrinmuana lost his cool and he got cautioned in the 69th minute for a soft foul on Nicholas Fernandes.
With 10 minutes left in the regulation time, Glan Martins, the super-sub for Sporting Goa, put life in the match when he scored on a rebound. Subashish Bose’s ambitious effort from outside the box was punched by Poirei only to find the right foot of Glan Martins who smacked the back of the net from point-blank range.
With minutes left in the match, the highlanders opted to go for the time-wasting tactic which earned a booking for Joel Sunday and the marching order for skipper David Lalrinmuana. The standout player for the Mizoram outfit would give the coveted Hero Federation Cup final a miss.
Joel Sunday almost nailed the final one in Sporting Goa coffin when he hit the woodwork in the added minute. Following a nice coordination with the Liberian attacker Alfred Jaryan, he found himself in a shooting position but eventually his right-footed effort rattled the sidebar.
Had Sumit Passi shown a little more concentration, the match result could have overturned in the next minute. Densill Theobald delivered a lethal ball to Loveday, the Nigerian defender released a fantastic ball to the farthest bar, but Passi, even after throwing himself, failed to tap the ball into the back of an open net.
by I-League Media