The last year’s runners-up could not cope with the trickery of the Mizo forwards.
Mizoram kicked off the Santosh Trophy campaign with a thumping 3-1 win over Goa at the Rabindra Sarovar Stadium, Kolkata. It was a thrilling first half which saw both teams score, but Mizoram proved to be too strong after the break and got all three points thanks to a brace from Lal Romawia.
In what was a really humid afternoon in Kolkata, both the teams started with three under-21 players and looked desperate to start off their tournament on a high. The game started at a high tempo with both the teams going close through their captains, but it was Goa who found the breakthrough in the 11th minute after an impressive move through the left wing was finished off by captain Victorino Fernandes.
Mizoram got the opportunity to go level three minutes later when Lalbiakhlua went through on goal from the right-wing, but his shot was very poor. Mizoram got their chances to score later on with striker Lalrinpuia’s shot going sailing over, but he got another chance in the 23rd minute, only to see his powerful shot get blocked by Peter Carvalho.
But his persistence paid off a few minutes later when Mizoram threatened inside the Goa box and while Lalbiankhlua’s shot was expertly saved by Ozen Silva, Lalrinpuia did not miss from the rebound and got the scores level. Victorino decided to go for a spectacle in the 34th minute, but his shot from 30 yards out went sailing over the post. Mizoram had a great chance to get the lead a few minutes later when Lal Remruata was found unmarked inside the box, but he too much time to take a shot which wasn’t even on target.
Goa received another golden opportunity to regain their lead minutes before half-time, when a curling free-kick found the head of striker Marcus Mascarenhas, but his header could only get stuck to the upper-netting.
Mizoram began the 2nd half on the up and almost got the lead in the 49th minute when a surging run from Lalbiankhlua was followed by a great cross from the winger which found Remruata, but the striker was unlucky to see his shot hit the post and be cleared out of danger.
Mizoram net past three goals against Goa with conceding one
Goa replied back almost instantly and five minutes later showed great creativity in a free-kick and Jessel Carneiro’s cross was parried away by Mizoram’s keeper, but the rebound cross from it met the header of Beevan D’Mello, which went just wheezing past the post. A bit of sloppiness crept into the game for a few minutes, but Mizoram looked the more threatening side and Lalrinpuia got a chance to get his brace in the 71st minute, but his low shot went just wide off the mark.
But Mizoram proved to be the better team when they created a swift attacking move in the 81st minute from the right-wing and Lalbiankhlua inside the box, who cleverly laid it for Lal Romawia in the middle who coolly finished to give his side a vital lead with minutes to go. But the young midfielder showed his talent by scoring another three minutes later, when he went past a few of Goa’s players before striking a sweet shot to the top-left corner and seal the deal for Mizoram.
Mizoram almost got another one minutes later as Goa huffed and puffed and looked lost after the goals. Substitute Clinton Niasso showed great energy and hit a powerful attempt from outside the box in the 89th minute, but it went sailing over the post. Mizoram threatened to make it a drubbing with some chances off counter-attacks but couldn’t do so, but will definitely be happy to kick-off their campaign with such a dominant win.
On the other pitch, former Champions Punjab rallied from a goal down to beat Odisha 2-1 to open their campaign in the 72nd Santosh Trophy on Tuesday (March 20 2018) at the Sailen Manna Sports Complex in Howrah.
After a barren first-half, Odisha took the lead in the 62nd minute through Arpan Lakra only for Sarbjit to restore the parity for Punjab in the 70th minute. However, an own goal by Odisha’s Rudra Pratap Pradhan sealed full three points for the Kuldip Singh-coached Punjab side.
Both the teams started with caution, but it was Punjab who held the upper hand in the midfield but lacked coordination with the strikers, with Baltej Singh and Prameet Jhutty failing to deliver the goods. Punjab had their first chance to go ahead in the 13th minute but Odisha defender D. Srinath came to the rescue to make a goal line save.
At the other end, Odisha almost took the lead in the 24th minute through Bijay Behra but Punjab keeper Moses Anthony made a diving save to deny the young striker.
Punjab although were more organized in attack but could not penetrate deep into rival box as Odisha defenders kept Punjab strikers under check. Prameet, who was closely marked, had the best chance of the half but his attempt was collected by Odisha keeper Soumya Ranjan Das off a pass from Gurtej Singh in the 37th minute.
Punjab beat Odisha after many scuffles
Meanwhile, Odisha came close to scoring twice late in the first half but Moses thwarted their attempts as the first half ended scoreless.
Odisha pushed Punjab on the backfoot in the second half and were all over the rival box but failed to find the target as Moses came out with good saves to deny Bijay and Arpan from scoring. However, Odisha’s persistent efforts finally bore fruit when Arpan found the back of the net just past the hour mark from Sunil Sardar’s pass.
Having conceded, Punjab showed urgency in front of the rival goal and managed to score the equalizer eight minutes later when skipper Sarbjit nodded from a corner to bring his side on level. Thereafter, it was all Punjab as the North Indian state created havoc in the Odisha box. The young Odisha defenders also made some brilliant clearances to frustrate the Punjab attackers.
Nonetheless, Odisha’s luck finally ran out in the 82nd minute when Rudra Prasad scored an own goal while trying to clear Jagdip Singh’s goalbound attempt. Though Odisha had a number of chances to restore the parity in the remainder but Punjab defended valiantly to grab all three points at stake.
Punjab will face Mizoram on 22 March at Rabindra Sarobar Stadium while Odisha will face the same opponent at Howrah on 24 March.