Aizawl FC played out a breathtaking 2-2 stalemate against Sporting Clube de Goa in the second leg of their semi-final here on Sunday to go through to their maiden Federation Cup final by virtue of the away-goals rule.
The first match of the two-legged tie had produced a goaless draw at Aizawl’s home ground and the draw was enough for the visitors to earn a spot in the final against 13-time champions Mohun Bagan in the final on May 21.
The boys from the north-east, who were recently relegated from the top division of the I-League, put their best foot forward at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. For Aizawl, Joel Sunday Ayeni (37th minute) and Lalchawnkima (via penalty 60th) scored while for the home side Sumit Passi (45+2) and Glan Martins (80th) netted one each.
The game also witnessed a red card as Aizawl captain David Lalrinmuana was sent off for time wasting during added time in the second half.
Aizawl started as the more attacking of the two sides from the outset. But the first real chance of the game fell for Sporting. But Aizawl goalkeeper Soram Poirei was quick to deny Nicholas Fernandes.
Aizawl skipper David then set up forward Alfred Jaryan, but the Liberian’s shot flew inches wide off the far-post.
There after there were more attacks on the Sporting citadel as David combined with other forwards and Aizawl were finally rewarded in the 37th minute.
It was a gem of a release which Sunday latched onto from the midfield. The striker stayed strong and outpaced a defender before slotting it past Sporting custodian Arindam Bhattacharya.
The hosts almost had an immediate equaliser, but Victorino Fernandes’ attempt was well kept out by Poirei.
It was eventually Passi who levelled the scoreline for the goan outfit in first half added time. A Pratesh Shirodkar corner was headed goal ward by Loveday Eyinnaya and the aerial ball was flicked in by Passi.
After the restart Emmanuel Chigozie almost ended up scoring an own goal for Aizawl as he tried backflicking a cross from Passi.
A few minutes later Shirodkar dragged down David at the other end and the referee had no choice but to point to the spot.
Lalchawnkima stepped up to take the kick and he smashed it past Arindam who dived the right way.
With nothing going their way, Sporting coach Mateus Costa introduced Indian midfielder Glan Martins. He turned out to be a super sub for his side as he restored parity in the 80th minute latching onto a loose ball in the box. The goal also brought the match alive.
In the second half injury time David was sent off after which Sunday hit the woodwork, when he should have sealed the deal for Aizawl.
But they held on by the skin of their teeth till the final whistle.