Former champions Eastern Sporting Union booked their place in the semi-finals following a thrilling penalty shootout win over Sports Odisha at the Shahibaug Police Stadium on Tuesday morning. The two teams were tied at 1-1 at the end of regulation time before the Manipur side emerged 4-2 winners from spot kicks.
Eastern Sporting Union and Sports Odisha were evenly matched throughout the first half as both sides had a fair share of goalscoring opportunities. Sports Odisha began the game on the strong foot with Nepal forward Rekha Poudel spearheading their attack. Following the cooling break at the half-hour mark, Eastern Sporting Union found some rhythm and displayed some good moves in the attacking third.
In the second half, Lourembam Ronibala Chanu’s side continued their resurgence in the game. Eventually, in the 67th minute, a long aerial cross from inside her own half by Phanjoubam Nirmala Devi was met by substitute Lhingdeikim with a header to draw first blood. Sports Odisha goalkeeper Spandita Das got a hand on the ball but it wasn’t enough to keep it out of the net.
With just 10 minutes to go, Manisha Naik produced a moment of brilliance to pull the scores level at 1-1. The Sports Odisha forward made a glorious first touch off a Sanfida Nongrum cross and beat goalkeeper Elangbam Panthoi Chanu with a delightful lob.
As the game went into the penalty shootout, Panthoi stepped up for Eastern Sporting Union. The India international custodian thwarted Sports Odisha midfielder Poonam’s spot kick before defender Poonam was denied by the woodwork. Captain Irom Prameshwori Devi then slotted in the winning penalty to send the Manipur side to the semi-finals for the first time since 2017-18.
Substitute and goalscorer Lhingdeikim was adjudged the Player of the Match for her impactful outing in the second half for Eastern Sporting Union.