Mizoram edge past Punjab in style in Santosh Trophy
Written by: Atrayo Bhattacharya
Lalremruata scored a brace for the Northeastern outfit.
Mizoram edged past Punjab 1-2 in a Santosh Trophy match played at the Howrah Stadium in West Bengal earlier today.
Punjab started proceedings on a positive note, as the Mizo players took their time to setlle in. But, the Northerners could not make use of any of their early domination as Mizoram secured the lead in the sixth minute when Lalbiakhlua's shot struck the crossbar and the rebound dropped right in front of Lalremruata. The #7 made no mistake and handed Mizoram the early advantage.
Mizoram took charge of the proceeding from there on, as Punjab were fading away from the match. Minutes later, Lalremruata increased the lead with a inch perfect cross from Lalrinpuia. The midfielder made a clever run down the left flank and his brilliant cross left the Punjab defence bamboozled as Remruata scored his second of the day.
The team from Northeast showed complete domination as crisp passing and sturdy defending has become a habit for them in this year's Santosh Trophy. Slow and patient build-ups and then sudden bursts of pace from the wings, this Mizoram side had a different kind of aura in the first half.
Lalbiakhlua came very close with his stunning header, as Punjab goalkeeper Moses Anthony made a decent save to restrict the scoreline to 2-0. The rebound fell generously to a Mizo player nearby but his shot was iches wide as it struck the side-netting. Jagdeep Singh had a golden opportunity to bring back some hope for the visitors but his shot went sailing wide from goal.
Lalromawia was the midfield general for Mizoram for the entire first half as almost all the moves they created were orchestrated by him. He released Lalbiakhlua on the right flank and the winger had acres of space in front of him, but Punjab defender Rajat Kumar made a decisive block for his side.
The only positive Punjab had in the first half was that they ended the procedings on a high, although they did not have a goal to show for it, but they did show promise in patiently making buildups.
Punjab desperately needed a positive start in the second half as Mizoram enjoyed most of the possession at the start of the 45. Punjab were more cautious and waited for the counters. Both teams had half chances but could not produce anything extraordinary.
Punjab's main fault in the first half was their route one football. The Northerners came out in a lot better shape in the second period and were rewarded when Jitender Rawat's surging run down the middle was noticed by the Punjab midfielders. Rawat then spotted substitute Baltej Singh on the left and his silky footwork and a powerful strike brought Punjab back in the game.
The game changed from there on as the match was interrupted several times for unwanted infringements. The refree showed a flurry of yellow cards to both teams but luckily nobody got sent off. Punjab were not accurate with their build-up play and constant interruptions hindered their momentum. The Northerners did have some half chances, but the Mizo defence and their shot-stopper Laltanpuia Ralte had answers to al the questions.
Although, Punjab came back strongly after being 2-0 down within the first 10 minutes of the match, They were second best on the day.
Published: Sat Mar 24, 2018 07:05 PM IST