Kalyani (West Bengal), Jan 9 (IANS) RoundGlass Punjab on Saturday began their I-League season with a 1-0 win over a wasteful Aizawl FC at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium here.
Pritam Ningthoujam’s 18th minute strike from outside the box turned out to be the difference between the two sides at the end of an intense match. Aizawl, meanwhile, were left to rue the numerous chances that they missed.
Both teams went at each other at a frantic pace in the early minutes. While Aizawl FC pressed high and kept the attack going, Punjab managed to piece together counter-attacks of their own.
A botched clearance from Aizawl fell Ningthoujam’s way who promptly unleashed a first-time shot, which flew into the back of the net as Punjab took the lead.
The goal changed the momentum of the match towards Punjab and shortly after, Chencho Gyeltshen could have doubled their lead had his touch inside the box been better after collecting a cross from the right flank.
With all the possession in the final third, Aizawl FC lacked creativity upfront and were easily diffused by Punjab’s defence. Despite dominating possession and pressing their opponents constantly, Aizawl FC did not have any goals to show for their performance going into half-time with the scoreline reading 0-1.
It was a similar trend in the second half with Aizawl repeatedly floundering chances. Princewell Emeka tried an overhead kick in the 47th minute but his attempt failed to even test the Punjab goalkeeper.
The Mizo side earned a golden opportunity to grab an equaliser in the 62nd minute after Alfred Jaryan was found inside the box by a low cross from the right flank. But from a tight angle and only the keeper to beat, his shot was blocked by a last-ditch tackle by an opponent defender.
Only a minute ago, the Liberian had missed an opportunity from the edge of the box. Shortly after, Brandon’s corner was met by Richard Kassaga’s head, forcing the keeper to make an easy save.
Lalremsanga Fanai was then freed by a defence-splitting through-ball by Laldinpuia in the 73rd minute. He only had Punjab goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong to beat but Fanai ended up hitting the ball straight at him.
That proved to be the last clear opportunity for Aizawl FC to salvage at least a point from the match.