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I-League - Shillong Lajong 1-1 Aizawl FC: Aizawl FC Are The Champions Of India

Sunday, 30 April 2017|Abhishek Mukherjee

It's the fairytale that has gripped the imagination of millions around the country -- and like all good fairy tales, this one had a happy ending.

Aizawl, dismissed as non-starters to win the league this season -- indeed the club was tipped for relegation -- was crowned champion after they drew 1-1 against Lajong at the JN Stadium in Shillong on Sunday. 

Needing just 1 point to achieve their impossible dream,  Aizawl gaffer Khalid Jamil was forced to make two changes to his side that beat Mohun Bagan. Ruatthara and Laltanpuia replaced Ashutosh Mehta and Alfred Jaryan.

The electric atmosphere created by both sets of fans was a testament to the importance of this fixture. 

End to end high-intensity football was the order of the day and both teams provided just that in the opening minutes. 

However, it was the home team which drew first blood through the ever threatening Dipanda Dicka. Samuel made a darting run down the left and whipped in an inch-perfect cross towards a lurking Dicka, whose header bounced off the underside of the cross-bar before going in. 

Set aback by the early goal, Aizawl unleashed a flurry of attacks but Lajong managed to weather the storm. Forced to defend deep, Lajong resorted to counter attacking football. Dicka proved to be a nightmare for the Aizawl defence to deal with as Kingsley was cautioned after a mistimed tackle on the Lajong forward. The resulting free kick, however, was thwarted away by Albino Gomes. 

Aizawl could have restored parity in the 30th minute when Danmaiwa found Al Amnah in space inside the box but the Syrian's effort on goal missed by a whisker. 

Lajong again survived a scare in the 36th minute when Kamo's backheel was cleared off the line by Redeem Tlang. 

At halftime, the scoreline read 1-0 in favour of Lajong. 

Desperately needing a goal, Aizawl gaffer Khalid Jamil introduced William Fela in place of Laltanpuia right after half-time. The message from the gaffer was loud and clear- attack, attack and attack. 

Jayesh Rane, meanwhile, missed two glaring opportunities to score when he blasted the ball over the bar twice within a minute. 

Aizawl had a goal cancelled in the 60th minute due to offside, adding to their frustration. 

Aizawl's constant pressure eventually paid dividends in the 67th minute when Kamo's feeble shot ricocheted off the post before falling for super sub William who made no mistake in guiding the ball home, sending the away crowd into ruptures. 

Kamo's hold up play created tremors in the Lajong defence as they failed to cope up with him. Kamo could have easily doubled Aizawl's lead in the 79th minute when his chip narrowly missed the target. 

More drama unfolded in the dying embers of the game when Dipanda Dicka failed to find the back of the net in the (90+3) minute, with an open goal infront of him, much to the relief of the Aizawl fans. 

The game eventually finished 1-1 as Aizawl FC scripted history, lifting their maiden I-League trophy. 

Congratulations to the Champions !!!

MOTM- Kamo Bayi