AIFF Media Team
SHILLONG, 24th May 18: The home-based Shillong Lajong FC advanced to the final of the ongoing U-18 Youth League with a 2-0 win over East Bengal in the second semifinal at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong on Thursday (May 24, 2018).
A second-half brace by winger Phrangki Buam (75′ & 86′) proved to be enough to prevent East Bengal from reaching back-to-back finals.
Lajong had the better of the early exchanges, but East Bengal gradually got back into it, and when the referee blew for half-time, goalless was a fair reflection of the action on offer.
Lajong looked in the mood from the kick-off and East Bengal keeper Ayan Roy was kept busy as he made saves from Donboklang Lyngdoh and Pravaj Bhuiya in the opening 15 minutes.
Lyngdoh made his presence felt for Lajong again with a good run and shot in the 17th minute, but his effort was saved by East Bengal goalkeeper. Soon after, Phrangki shot over the bar.
But, once East Bengal had weathered the storm, they launched attacks of their own. Suranjit Singh was nearly clean through on goal but was foiled by a brilliant tackle by Romen Singh in the 34th minute.
Six minutes later, The Manipuri lad had another opportunity, but, this time, his shot was palmed clear by Lajong goalkeeper Neithovilie Chalieu.
Freestar Kharbangar, three minutes before half-time, had a golden chance to put Lajong ahead but drilled his effort wide.
The second half again saw Lajong in the early ascendancy, with Lyngdoh sending one of his trademark long-range efforts over the bar in the 54th minute. The striker had another opportunity around the hour mark, but this time Ayan was at full stretch to make the save.
But something had to give and it was Lajong who opened the scoring in the 75th minute when Phrangki slotted a brilliant free-kick home, to send the Lajong faithful into a wild celebration.
Meanwhile, East Bengal had a great chance to equalize five minutes later when Jhantu Prasad picked out Lalcchanhima at the far post, but Chalieu’s interception denied the Mizo striker.
In the 86th minute, it was 2-0. Again, it was that man Phrangki, who converted from the spot to put his side in a commanding position for the remainder of the match.
Nonetheless, East Bengal were far from beaten playing with energy and positivity but Lajong were able to play out the final moments of the game and go on to celebrate a famous win over the mighty East Bengal.
Lajong will take on Kerala Blasters in the finale on Saturday (May 26, 2018) at the very same venue.