AIZAWL: Aizawl FC held Mohun Bagan to a goalless draw in the opening match of the 2019/20 I-League at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Aizawl on Saturday afternoon.
Mohun Bagan dominated proceedings and created better goal-scoring chances but the Mariners were let down by their final pass and finishing. They will surely be kicking themselves for not burying numerous goal-scoring opportunities they created, especially in the first-half.
But in the end, the result was perhaps a fair reflection of the action on show. Both teams had periods of dominance and numerous scoring opportunities.
Home fans who showed up hoping to see a dominant performance from Aizawl FC, had little to cheer about in the first-half, as a keenly contested but frustratingly scrappy battle developed between the two sides.
Despite some quick and accurate passes from both sets of players, neither side was able to establish dominance over the midfield during the early stages which made for an end-to-end, open encounter.
Mohun Bagan were pressing high without the ball, trying to put pressure on the Aizawl FC defence. Nongdamba Naorem kept the ball moving up the right flank for the Kolkata giants, while Julen Colinas and Francisco Morante had a couple of chances either saved or just off-target.
Playing out from the back, Kibu Vicuna’s men were looking to connect with target-man Suhair Vadakkepeedika but Richard Kassaga, at the centre of Aizawl FC defence, had little trouble defusing the searching long balls and crosses aimed at the forward.
By midway through the first period Aizawl FC were piling on the pressure. The hosts were most threatening on the counter-attack with William Lalnunfela using his pace to put Mohun Bagan on the back foot. Struggling to keep up with the speed of the attack, Mohun Bagan were at times forced to commit fouls to allow the backline to get back and reset.
Mohun Bagan, although dominant in possession, struggled to adjust to the Aizawl FC’s solid approach to defending their goal mouth.
Following a scoreless first-half, the pattern continued with Mohun Bagan displaying slick passing and technical ability without causing any real threat in the final third.
Aizawl FC were also clever throughout, using delaying tactics such as players going down for cramps to ensure the match was of a stop-start nature and prevent Mohun Bagan from finding their rhythm on attack.
The visitors threw numbers forward in the final ten minutes of the game, but were unable to find the back of the net and had to settle for a share of the spoils.