The Northeast state will face West Bengal in the last four…

Five-star Mizoram scripted a thumping 5-1 win over Railways in the deciding encounter of the 71st Santosh Trophy match played at GMC Stadium Bambolim earlier today.  

It was a do-or-die situation for both the teams. Mizoram were low on confidence after a humiliating 4-1 defeat at the hands of Kerala in the last match, while Railways had edged out Maharashtra after suffering two back-to-back defeats in the starting matches.

Mizoram coach Lalsangzuala Hmar made wholesale changes to his side in as Lalbiakhlua, Lalrammawia Rammawia, V. Lalchhuanawma Vanchhawng, Lalhmunmawia Ahmuntea, K. Lalmalsawma Malsawma, Lalsangbera Sangbera and the keeper F. Lalmuanawma Muanawma found their names in the starting XI. While Mervin Stephen replaced suspended Shabaz Pathan in the Railways line-up.

The match started as a swinging pendulum but as it progressed, the match was restricted to midfield play for the next 20 minutes. Mizoram were the first to create a chance when Lalbiakhlua found F. Lalrinpuia in the box but the striker shot wind.  

On 23 minutes, Mizoram wasted a good chance to take an early lead when Lalrinchhana Rcha chose to go with the diving header despite being in a better position to shoot from inside the box off Lalbiakhlua’s curling cross. However, Mizoram opened their tally in the very next minute. The defender Vanchhawng got hold of the short pass from Lalbiakhlua, covered some ground and blasted a grounder from distance which finished in the back of the nylons. Again the match was restricted to midfield play for the next 15 minutes. In between that, Railways came close to scoring when Badal Verma tried to find Deepankar Sukumar in the box but the Mizoram keeper Muanawma intercepted it. However he was unsuccessful in killing the move completely as the ball slipped off his gloves and fell into the feet of Sukumar, but Mizo defender Laldinliana cleared it on time.

However, Mizoram could not hold the lead for long as Rajesh Soosanayakam equalised for Railways with two minutes for the half-time whistle. The striker brilliantly headed between the players and the Mizoram keeper off Jitender Pal’s perfect cross from the right.

After the late equaliser from Railways both the teams entered dugout level.

The second half saw lots of action in the Railways half as the Northeastern state came out all attacking and scored four more goals.

First, Rammawia headed in off Laldinliana’s cross from the left flank. Next, U21 midfielder Rcha made it 3-1 for their side with a calm finish from the inside after getting hold of Sangbera’s pin-point perfect through pass.

In between these, railways tried to come back into the match but their counter attacks completely failed due to miss passes in the final third.

Mizoram further extended their lead through Sangbera. The striker scored from the spot-kick after the referee awarded a penalty kick when he saw Railways defender Verma brought down Mizoram’s Lalrinpuia in the box. A few minutes later Lalrinpuia curled the ball into the net from the top of the box and made it 5-1, leaving railways keeper Owais Kahn no chance to save it.

With this win, Mizoram fixed their semi-final date with West Bengal on 23rd March.

In the other match played at Tilak Maidan Vasco, Maharashtra registered an easy 2-0 win over Kerala. Vaibhav Shirley scored the opener for the western state in the 34th minute while Shrikant Veeramallu doubled their lead on the hour mark.