Aizawl FC and Mohun Bagan AC drew at Rajiv Gandhi stadium in Aizawl sharing the much needed three points for both the team in what could be described as the most crucial I-League match for both the teams to have a glimmer of hope for lifting the trophy.
The cold Aizawl weather restricted the match as what can be seen as a calm and composed, but was ignited after the 73rd minute of the play when Aizawl FC scored an opening goal that was followed by a controversial penalty which gave the visiting side an equaliser.
It was an unfortunate relief for Aizawl FC fans when Mohun Bagan’s ace striker and the present I-League top scorer Aser Dicka limped off the ground only on the 31st minute of the first half.
Aizawl FC dominated the match in all areas but the much needed goal could not come despite efforts made by Dodoz and Ionescu. The 37th minute strike by Dodoz could be barely put to safety by Bagan’s custodian Shilton Paul. The first half between Aizawl FC and Mohun Bagan ended goalless, despite Aizawl FC’s dominance.
Aizawl FC winger Dodoz looked like he found new inspiration during the half time break, and instantly became a headache for the Bagan’s defence. He goes on a run on the left and cut inside to take a shot but was blocked by Rana Gharami.
Soon after Aizawl made a double substitution which ushered Malsawmtluanga Shylo into the pitch, Aizawl FC scored and took the lead. Dodoz cross from the left was well connected and substitute Lalthathanga Khawlhring fired a shot at the Bagan goal which was initially saved by Shilton Paul but looped over the post and went into the goal to his dismay.
Having ended the goal drought, it was Bagan’s time, Moghrabi Akram was brought down by Aizawl’s keeper Avilash Paul after he took the shot which went wide but was given a penalty. Amidst huge protests and an overdose of boos from the fans, the referee’s decision stood tall and Manandeep made no mistake to level the score.
Aizawl FC’s midfielder Ionescu hit the woodwork which left the Bagan defenders shouting at each other. And instantly Aizawl’s keeper had to reach Bagan’s defender Ricky’s shot to stay alive.
Aizawl FC captain Alfred Jaryan was sent off in the 89th minute by the referee for a cynical tackle on Akram Moghrabi. Aizawl FC had better chances in the added injury minutes but the tally stood 1-1 in the end, with both teams having no choice but to accept one point.
Aizawl FC fans were infuriated by the referee’s penalty decision and were almost uncontrollable, but were eventually cooled down by the players.
Aizawl FC coach Paulo Meneses too, took the side of the fans and said the match ended unfairly. “Of course not, it was not a fair result, everybody saw it,” he said.
“If the referee gave one penalty to Mohun Bagan , he should’ve given us two penalties. I could not see the incident properly, it could be a penalty but, if that was a penalty, we also should have penalty,” Meneses said.
Aizawl FC now will take a break from I-League and will play AFC Champions League against Zoh Ahan at Foolad Shahr Stadium in Iran on January 30.