RoungGlass Punjab emerged 2-1 victorious against Aizawl FC in a well-contested fourth-round tie of the Hero I-League 2022-23 at the Tau Devi Lal Football Stadium here on Monday.
In an action-packed game, a thumping header from Punjab defender Deepak Devrani in the second half proved to be the deciding factor after a first-half penalty by Luka Majcen was cancelled out by R Lalthanmawia's tap-in. Aizawl's captain Lalchhawnkima missed a penalty in the final minutes of the game as the hosts walked off with full points.
Aizawl had a chance to go up in the first minute but Henry Kisekka wasted the chance despite having ample opportunity to score off a header from a corner taken by K Lalrosanga. Soon, RoundGlass Punjab grew into the game and started building attacks.
Punjab received a penalty in the 15th minute. Luka Majcen was in a scoring position following a fine through pass from Brandon Vanlalremdika. However, before the Slovenian could take a shot, he was brought down in the box by Aizawl's captain Lalchhawnkima. Majcen comfortably converted from the spot to put the hosts ahead.
In the 27th minute, the visitors equalised. Matias Veron laid a pass for R Ramdinthara on the right wing as he crossed the ball for R Lalthanmawia, who made a drifting run into the six-yard area before tapping the ball into the goal. Kisekka played an important role in Aizawl attack as the Ugandan created space for his teammates. Lalthanmawia and Ramdinthara also troubled the Punjab fullbacks with their speedy runs.
Two minutes from halftime, Punjab caught Aizawl on the counter as Majcen released the ball for Vanlalremdika, who passed it for Samuel Lalmuanpuia in the box, but Samuel's effort hit the post. Soon after Emmanuel Makinde fouled Lalmuanpuia near the penalty area. Lalmuanpuia took the resultant free-kick as he put in a ball for captain Aleksandar Ignjatovic, but his header was wide of the target.
In the 60th minute, Majcen launched a powerful shot from inside the penalty area but it missed the target without troubling the rivals.
At the beginning of the final quarter, the hosts regained the lead. Daniel Lalhlimpuia passed the ball to Vanlalremdika but the Aizawl custodian Vikram Lahkbir Singh came off his line to fil the attack at the expense of a corner. Vanlalremdika took the resultant corner kick as the Punjab defender Deepak Devrani came running in at the back post to put his header in for Punjab's second goal of the night.
Devrani was again called into action, this time at the other end as he made a goalline clearance following a shot by Aizawl's Veron in the 80th minute. The Argentine took advantage of a faulty collection by the Punjab goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong.
Seven minutes later, Punjab's Naocha Singh fouled Aizawl substitute Lalchhanhima Sailo inside the penalty area, thus providing the visitors the chance to level the score. Lalchhawnkima took the penalty kick but his shot struck the crossbar much to the relief of RoundGlass bench.
The away team tried their best to restore parity but the Punjab defence stood firm to take three points home. Following another home win, the Warriors have amassed ten points with three wins and a draw from four matches. For Aizawl FC, it was the second defeat of the season as they now have four points with a draw and a win from as many matches.