Hero Super Cup 2023 | East Bengal ousted after playing out draw against Aizwal FC
In a Group B match on Monday at the Payyanad stadium, East Bengal FC and Aizawl FC drew 2-2, with David Lalhlansanga scoring a late equaliser to send East Bengal FC packing from the Hero Super Cup.
The Red and Golds took the lead, thanks to goals from Naorem Mahesh Singh and Sumeet Passi, but two goals from Aizawl FC in a matter of seconds eliminated the Kolkata club from the competition. Head coach Stephen Constantine made a number of changes to the starting lineup since East Bengal FC needed a decisive victory to keep their prospects alive.
For the bulk of the game, East Bengal's offence was led by India international Naorem Mahesh Singh, who also provided the first goal in the 17th minute. Mahesh was brilliantly set up by Cleiton Silva to cut inside the box and cross the ball to the middle of the area. However, his cross took a nasty deflection and went into the Aizawl goal.
Midfielder Mobashir Rahman then had a fantastic chance to increase the advantage. He picked up a loose ball just beyond the box's edge and attempted to fire, but his attempt went over the crossbar. As the one-way traffic persisted, East Bengal predominated. The Kolkata giants increased their lead five minutes after taking the lead. Sumeet Passi rose highest to head a VP Suhair cross into an open goal after Aizawl FC custodian Vanlalhriatpuia made a mistake with his angles while attempting to push the ball aside. At the moment, it appeared that a rout was imminent.
Aizawl FC, however, benefited from a favourable change of events. Reality, however, hit just before halfway as Aizawl scored a goal against the flow of the game. Akito Saito, a defender, moved upfield before David Lalhlansanga received a through pass from him. David took advantage of the opportunity and fired from a tight angle. The original shot was saved by Kamaljit, but the rebound dropped directly to Lalhruaitluanga, who maintained his cool to score.
Aizawl equalised shortly after the restart thanks to a goal from David Lalhlansanga. Kamaljit skillfully cleared Akito Saito's long ball into the East Bengal penalty area. Aizawl was about to break through when the custodian hurried off his line to knock the ball clear, but his clearing dropped right to David 40 yards from the goal. To everyone's surprise in the stadium, the forward took his shot and it soared in.
East Bengal failed to generate a clear-cut opportunity in the second half and never really recovered from the setback. As a consequence, East Bengal was eliminated from the campaign without earning a single victory. As a result of their perseverance throughout the competition, Aizawl earned their first point, which was well deserved.
(With IANS inputs)