Aizawl FC stunned I-League champions Bengaluru FC 2-1 in their maiden match of the Federation Cup football tournament at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium. Joel Sunday’s 90th minute goal proved to be the difference between the two sides after Alfred Kemah (38th minute) had cancelled out Bengaluru and India midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh’s 15th minute goal.
With Aizwal FC notching up a win, the onus now lies on Bengaluru FC to perform in the second leg of the fixture which is slated to for May 3.
Aizwal had earned the right to feature in the Federation Cup after finishing eighth in the nine-team I-League. Top eight teams of the I-League will play in home and away basis in the tournament.
Speaking at the post-match press conference, Bengaluru FC’s head coach Ashley Westwood asserted that his side can make a comeback in the second leg at home.
“We had several chances, and could have led by four goals. There is a cent percent chance that we will have a comeback and get through this round,” he said.
Aizawl FC’s head coach Jahar Das was all smiles after the upset win.
“We deserved this win as we played a good game. We are looking forward to the second leg and will play to the best of our abilities,” he said.
In the opening minutes of the match, it was Bengaluru FC who nearly took the lead with some fluent attacking football. Sunil Chhetri’s threatening corner resulted in a coming together of bodies in the Aizwal FC penalty box, but the home side defence stood strong and made a goal line clearance to deny Bengaluru FC an early lead.
In the 10th minute, Eugeneson Lyngdoh’s brilliant free-kick was met with John Johnson’s header and goalkeeper Poirei had to make an acrobatic save. The resulting corner saw the Bengaluru FC duo team up again and Lyngdoh’s delivery made contact with Johnson’s right boot, rattling the Aizwal FC woodwork.
Aizawl had their first proper shot minutes later when Yuta had a try from 30 yards away, but the ball went over the bar.
Minutes later, Lalchhawnkima found a chance to score an equalizer for Aizawl through a set piece but the Bengaluru keeper Amrinder blocked the ball.
Joel Sunday showed off some exquisite skills with the ball when he made his way towards the Bengaluru box, tricking past three defenders, but he failed to make a finish as his shot went wide.
The attacking moves made by Aizawl FC eventually bore fruit when Alfred’s shot found its mark in the 38th minute changing the scoreline to 1-1. Alfred’s left foot shot assisted by Lalchhawnkima made its way into the net at the bottom corner rendering Amrinder helpless.
Aizawl FC continued to attack and missed more chances just minutes before the first half ended with a 1-1 scoreline.
Aizawl FC continued their momentum in the second half and the Reds had a goal scoring opportunity in the 48th minute when Brandon’s cross found Albert clear of the defensive mix inside the box. The latter failed to make the most out of it as another chance went abegging.
In the 57th minute, Udanta Singh’s shot from distance was met with a strong fist by Poirei as Bengaluru FC continued their search for another goal.
Nine minutes later, Aizwal FC were awarded with a golden opportunity to take the lead but Alfred failed to tap the ball in, after successfully beating Amrinder Singh in a one versus one situation.
Substitute Daniel Lalhlimpuia showed his prowess on the pitch when he drove the ball into the box and prepared himself for a shot but was tackled by Emma denying him his chance.
Not to be deterred, Aizwal FC continued their search for the winning goal and in the 90th minute, Joel Sunday lit up the faces of fans in the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium as he blasted the ball into the Bengaluru net.