KOLKATA: East Bengal crowned champions in the 122nd U-19 IFA Shield beating arch-rivals Mohun Bagan 4-2 on penalties in the final played at the Barasat Stadium on Thursday.
After the sides were locked 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes of regulation time and a further half an hour of extra time, the final was decided in the cruellest method of the game with the East Bengal coming out on top.
Didwm Hozowary and Lalthankima missed Mohun Bagan’s first two penalties of the shootout to hand East Bengal the advantage which they held until their last attempt of the five with a 3-2 lead. Dip Saha stepped up to take the penalty to win the Shield for his side and promptly drove the ball home for East Bengal to take the title.
The match was one of high quality and was evenly contested. Both sides had some good scoring opportunities but were denied from scoring by some quality goalkeeping and narrow misses.
East Bengal came close early when Bagan keeper Asanja Daimary made a save from a Lalchhanhima header in the 8th minute.
The best chance of the first-half fell for East Bengal skipper Jhantu Prasad in the 17th minute when he hammered a right-footed shot from outside the box towards the top corner only to be denied by a brilliant diving save from Asanja.
Suranjit Singh hit his shot well wide from outside the box in the 26th minute.
In the 31st minute Lalchhanhima received the ball out side the box and turned past Asif Ali Molla and hammered his shot well wide past the post, he should have done better.
Mohun Bagan had a slight chance when Krishanu Malo cleared the ball up field into the East Bengal’s goalmouth; Subha Ghosh was just beaten to the ball by East Bengal keeper Ayan Roy.
Koushik Santra then took a shot from a free kick that flew narrowly over the bar in the 44th minute.
The teams went in at the break with the scored tied at 0-0.
Changing over, Mohun Bagan started as the brighter of the two sides and broke the deadlock just one minute into the session when Sourav Das slotted home following a goalmouth scramble.
However, rather than let their heads drop, the goal spurred East Bengal on and they began attacking with intensity through Lalchhanhima, Suranjit and Jhantu.
As the second-half progressed possession remained in East Bengal’s favour and the number of shots they had increased however Asanja covered his area well to keep some stunning strikes at bay.
However despite his best efforts Asanja could not hold East Bengal off forever and as the clock headed into the 84th minute mark he let the ball roll under his foot and into the net from Dip’s tame effort.
In the remainder of the match, both sides engaged in an end-to-end battle but couldn’t break the deadlock as game progressed to the thirty minutes of extra time.
In the extra time both the teams wasted opportunities to take the match to the shootout where Jhantu, Lalchhanhima, Rohulpuia and Dip scored for East Bengal while Subhanil Ghosh was denied by Bagan’s substitute keeper Avijit Debnath.
For Mohun Bagan, Debanna Chakraborty and Subha converted their chances while Didwm saw their effort saved by Ayan, Lalthankima hit wide of the target.