Valiant Aizawl FC Go Down Fighting Against Kingfisher East Bengal

By I-League Media

AIZAWL: Nine-man Aizawl FC went down fighting against Kingfisher East Bengal in the round 13 opening game at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium. In spite of having a two-goal lead in the first half, the highlanders finally went down against the Red & Golds, courtesy the second half hattrick by Ranti Martins.

The Rajiv Gandhi stadium was filled up by a large crowd who cheered for the home side as well as the two Mizo players Shylo Malsawmtlunga and Robert Lalthlamuana who started for Kingfisher East Bengal.

In the eighth minute, Shylo Malsawmtluanga’s long-range effort flew just above the crossbar to the relief of the Aizawl side. Joaquim’s volleys from the top of the box were too heavy for Ranti Martins who failed to convert though he had placed himself in a convenient position.

The first goal of the match came in the 20th minute when Brandon Vanlalremdika converted a cross by Lalbiakhlua from the right flank. Kingfisher East Bengal goalie Luis Barreto failed to stop the brutal shot even though he had a touch. The first half ended in 1-0 in the favour of the home team.

In the 58th minute, the Aizawl side surprised the away team with another goal. Bernard Mendy failed to clear Brandon’s cross from the left flank and the Japanese midfielder Yuta Kinowaki doubled their lead from inside the 6-yard box.

The away team strove hard for a comeback but Aizawl FC defenders showed their mettle to thwart their every single effort. In the 67th minute, Emmanuel Chigozie was given the marching order for a harsh challenge on Ranti Martins inside the box. Converting the chance from the 6-yard spot, Ranti Martins provided some breathing space to the away team.

Kingfisher East Bengal started to push harder and exploit the one-man advantage over Aizawl FC. Ranti Martins eventually scored again in the 85th minute when he headed his second goal from a cross by Bikash Jairu, who replaced the local boy Shylo in the second half. Three minutes later, the lanky striker completed his second hat-trick in the ongoing Hero I-League season tapping a low cross by Abinash Ruidas from the left flank.

The crowd as well as the home team couldn’t believe as the match almost slipped from their grasp. Lalramchullova had an unnecessary challenge on Ranti Martins in the dying minutes, which resulted in his second booking of the match, leaving the home team two-man down for almost five minutes. Ranti Martins, who is the highest scorer right now with eleven goals from as many games, walked away with Hero of the match award.

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