Kolkata, Jan 30 (IANS) Aizawl FC beat North Eastern Re-Organising Cultural Association Football Club (NEROCA FC) 2-1 with the latter being reduced to nine players in stoppage time after getting two red cards at the Mohun Bagan Ground, Kolkata on Saturday.
MC Malsawmzuala scored the winner in the 56th minute after NEROCA’s Judah Emmanuel Garcia equalised in the 49th minute. PC Laldinpuia had earlier given Aizawl the lead in the 37th minute. With the victory, Aizawl now move up the table with seven points and are placed four points behind the leaders Churchill Brothers with one game in hand.
NEROCA, who came into the match after a 4-1 defeat against Gokulam Kerala, started with an attacking game and had two chances to score within the first three minutes. Khanngam Horam latched on to a forward pass from Jude Garcia in the second minute but his shot was blocked and sent for a corner. It was Horam again who was the end of the following corner at the near post but his header was off target.
Aizawl settled in after the early scare and threatened the NEROCA goal through a number of corners. They, however, only tested the goalkeeper in the 15th minute, when C Laldinpuia reached Malsawmtluanga’s corner but the defender’s header was straight at Bishorjit Singh.
Five minutes later, Bishorjit was forced to make another save to keep the scores equal as Ramhlunchhunga chested a cross down to his feet and took a shot. The Neroca goalkeeper had to come off his line quickly and deny him the opener. In the 28th minute, Aizawl were again denied the lead as Alfred Jaryan’s header was cleared off the goal line.
Aizawl kept threatening and reaped rewards for their efforts in the 37th minute. Laldinpuia got at the end of an inswinging cross delivered by Malsawmtluanga and he sent his header past a stranded NEROCA goalkeeper Bishorjit Singh. The former champions almost doubled their lead in the 40th minute through Alfred Jaryan but Bishorjit had no trouble in dealing with the shot as he ensured that his team went into halftime with just a single goal deficit.
NEROCA returned with vigour after the break and levelled the score through Judah Emmanuel Garcia just before the 50th minute. Songpu Singsit turned past his man in the centre of the park and found Garcia in space. The Trinidad and Tobago striker took a couple of touches before taking a powerful low shot from outside the box, which zoomed past Aizawl goalkeeper Lalmuansanga.
With the scores equal, both teams started to attack with intent and this opened up the game. Nathaniel Jude Garcia almost gave NEROCA the lead in the 55th minute, but his long-range free kick struck the top of the crossbar. The third goal of the game came a minute later in the 56th minute and it was the former I-League champions who grabbed the lead for the second time.
A cross from the right flank caused panic inside the NEROCA box and as the goalkeeper failed to deal with the long ball, MC Zuala headed the loose ball into an empty net to make it 2-1 in favour of Aizawl.