AIFF Media Team
HOWRAH: Mizoram became the first team to qualify for the semifinals in the ongoing 72nd Santosh Trophy as they edged past Punjab 2-1 in a Group B fixture played at the Sailen Manna Stadium in Howrah on Saturday (March 24, 2018)
Mizoram took a two goal lead at half time thanks to Lalremruata's double strike in the 7th and 9th minute before Punjab pulled a goal back through Jitender Rawat in the 56th minute.
Mizoram started on a promising note as they looked for an early goal but the Punjab keeper Moses Anthony came out with some good saves to deny the strike pair of Lalrinpuia and Lalremruata early on.
However, Mizoram's persistent efforts finally paid off in the 7th minute when Lalremruata slotted home from Lalbiakhlua's pass to give his side an early lead. Two minutes later, the continued pressure yielded another goal as Dawngliana got the ball from midfield and ran past a couple of defenders before passing the ball to an unmarked Lalremruata inside the box, who completed his brace.
Having taken a two goal lead inside first ten minutes, Mizoram slowed down the pace of the game and played possession football. Meanwhile, Punjab, who looked mostly listless in the first half, also created some good opportunities to reduce the margin but failed to equalize with their strikers Prameet Jhutty and Jitender, as the first half ended 2-0.
Punjab began the second half positively and kept the early pressure on their opponents with Prameet and substitute Baltej Singh combining well upfront.
Baltej, who worked his way on the right, sent a goal mouth cross where Mizoram defenders Lalromawia and Malsawma failed to intercept, and Jitender tapped the ball home to make it 2-1 in the 56th minute. Thereby igniting hopes of a comeback.
Punjab increased their pressure up front dominating the second half entirely. Mizoram kepeer Laltanpuia Ralte had to pull off some fine save to keep the score line intact. Lackluster finishing by their strikers also did not help them increase their margins.
Punjab had a golden chance to level the score in the 84th minute when Baltej’s feeble attempt failed to find the back of the net.
Mizoram had a chance to finish off the game in additional time when they were awarded with a penalty after Lalrinpuia was brought down inside the box but Malsawma's effort from the spot was saved by Moses as the game ended 2-1.
Mizoram will face Armando Colaco's Goa in their final league match on March 28 at Mohun Bagan Ground while Punjab will take on Karnataka on March 26 at Howrah.
Posted on : Saturday March 24, 2018