AIFF Media Team
SHILLONG: After an enterprising opening day which saw teams from Group A and C doing the business, the Group B and D got underway with a mixed set of results as the action was fast and furious in the 2017/18 U-18 Youth League final round on Thursday (May 17, 2018) in Shillong.
While in Group B East Bengal kicked off their campaign with a bang, FC Pune City and Minerva Punjab had to settle for a draw at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
The home-based Shillong Lajong FC produced an impressive display to beat Aizawl FC after FC Goa and Ozone FC played to a goalless draw in Group D curtain-raiser.
East Bengal 2-0 SAI Trivandrum
Jhantu Prasad opened the scoring for the Red and Golds in the 27th minute before Telem Suranjit Singh added a second in the 81st minute. SAI Trivandrum has a lot to do if they aqre to make it out of the group stage.
Minerva Punjab 1-1 FC Pune City
Pune City attacked from the word go and rewarded with a 6th-minute goal through Jakob Vanlalhimpuia. However, Minerva responded positively to falling behind. Luntinmang Haokip pounced on a loose ball in the box to tie the game in the 25th minute. Pune City struggled a bit to find their rhythm in the second-half, while Minerva seem to upped their game in the second-half. Nonetheless, it doesn’t help, no more goals are added and the game finished in a draw.
FC Goa 0-0 Ozone FC
FC Goa had the better chances to score in the first-half with Ozone goalkeeper Sanju M. forced to pull off several quality saves. Meanwhile, Ozone improved their game considerably in the second-half, which was interspersed by numerous stoppages due to fouls and injuries, but could not find a breakthrough.
Shillong Lajong 1-0 Aizawl FC
Lajong started well, though the first-half ended goalless, and scored the all-important goal through Kynsai Khongsit in the 58th minute.
The home side looked the more dangerous of the two sides in the first-half. The Junior Reds used the speed of Donboklang Lyngdoh and Kenstar Kharshong to trouble the Aizawl defence. Paul Ramfangzauva also looked threatening for Aizawl bombing down the left flank throughout the half but neither side was unable to find a goal.
Needing a goal, Lajong came out all guns blazing in the second-half as they attacked by pushing high up. The pressure paid off as Lajong finally broke the deadlock in the 58th minute through Khongsit.
Having taken the lead, Lajong got a much-needed confidence boost and they increased their pressure up front dominating the game entirely. Despite creating numerous scoring opportunities it was lack of finishing that prevented a bigger scoreline as the game ended 1-0 in Lajong’s favour.