Super Cup Football: Aizawl FC wins tournament opener in penalty shootout
Bhubaneswar: I-League side Aizawl FC won the thrilling first game of the inaugural edition of Super Cup Football Tournament at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar against ISL champions Chennaiyin FC in a penalty shootout after the game ended in 2-2 draw following regulation time and extra time. In a major upset the ISL champs have been knocked out from the tournament after their loss today.
The match started after Odisha Sports Minister Chandra Sarathi Behera and Football Association of Odisha (FAO) president Debasish Samantaray’s introduction with the players.
Both the teams started on an attacking note. In the very second minute of the match, Aizawl FC had a chance with Afghan footballer Masih Saighani missing a shot after a free-kick from his teammate.
Chennaiyin FC’s corner also went in-vain in the ninth minute and again after a few seconds when Jude Nworuh’s cross was skillfully intercepted by the alert Aizwal defense.
Couple of minutes later Zikahi Dodoz ran hard and covered good ground but failed to make an impact as his shot went wide.
But the I-League side went on to open the scoring in the 22nd minute of the match with Romanian midfielder Andrei Ionescu’s kick from the edge of the box going into the goal post. Andrei got past defender Anirudh Thapa inside the box and found the back of the net with a soft deflection.
Chennaiyin made continuous attempts to score an equaliser in the remaining first half but all went down begging for the ISL champions.
Dhanpal Ganesh was penalised with a yellow card in the 34th minute.
In the added injury time of one minute, another golden opportunity went down begging for Chennaiyin FC as Anirudh Thapa’s strong kick hit goalie Arup Debnath’s leg and they missed a chance to score the equaliser right before the half-time.
Chennaiyin FC made two desperate substitutions by bringing in Bedashwor Singh and Bikramjit Singh in place of Fransisco Fernandes and underperforming Anirudh Thapa.
Aizawl started the second half with another dominating attempt. Skipper Alfred Jaryan’s long ranger went over the Chennaiyin FC goalpost luckily for the South Indian side.
Chennaiyin FC was handed another yellow card in the 52nd minute as Bikramjit Singh’s foul right at the centre of the playing area didn’t go down well with the referee.
In the 61st minute, Aizawl FC duo of Zikahi Dodoz and Masih Saighani tried to double the lead but Jerry Lalrinzuala’s defensive skills came to rescue for Chennaiyin goalkeeper Karanjit Singh. Zikahi attacked from the left flank on this occasion while Masih wanted to score off the rebound ball from Karanjit.
In the 76th minute Chennaiyin FC got a free-kick just outside the penalty area but Jaime Martinez’s curling ball was nicely punched away by Aizawl goalie to maintain the 1-0 lead.
Chennaiyin FC found the equalizer in the 89th minute with skipper Mailson Alves finding the back of an empty Aizawl goalpost. The Brazilian striker kicked the rebounded ball from the crossbar after his teammate Thoi Singh’s kick hit the post. The game finished with 1-1 after regulation time and match went into extra time.
In the 91st minute, Ionescu scored again by curling the ball past Karanjit Singh from inside the box to provide 2-1 lead for Aizwal FC.
Chennaiyin FC’s L Dhanachandra Singh found an easier way to score the equaliser in the extra time to make it 2-2. A throw in from the right flank was nicely converted into a goal by Dhanachandra to take the game into penalty shootout.
In the shootout Mohammad Rafi of Chennaiyin FC kicked the ball over the goalpost to hand the win to Aizawl FC and the ISL champions were knocked out of the Super Cup in the very first game of the tourney.
A couple of games will be played tomorrow in the Super Cup which involves 16 teams from Indian Super League (ISL) and I-League. The first game will see Bengaluru FC and Gokulam Kerala FC crossing swords while two I-League sides Mohun Bagan and Churchill Brothers will face off in the 8 o’ clock game at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.