Mapuia's brace ends Aizawl's winless run
Aizawl, Feb 23 (PTI) Defending champions Aizawl FC finally got back to winning ways as they blanked Indian Arrows 3-0 in the I-League, ending a run of eight winless matches here today.
In a game that offered a plethora of chances to both sides, Aizawl ran away with 3 points as they scored three goals against Arrows.
Romanian midfielder Andrei Ionescu (7th minute) opened the scoring having netted his third goal of the season, Hero of the Match Lalkhawpuimawia (16th, 87th) scored a sublime brace at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium.
Arrows right-back Boris' backpass was tracked by Dodoz but the Ivorian forward could not open the scoring.
Aizawl needed only seven minutes to score the first goal. Mapuia skipped past Stalin in the byline and sent a teasing ball towards goal, and Arrows goalkeeper Sukham failed to grab the ball as it found its way to Ionescu, who easily found the back of the back form three yards out.
Luis Norton de Matos' players settled into the game and were enjoying a lion's share of the possession. Lalengmawia with Jeakson Singh were controlling the midfield but failed to create a goal-scoring chance.
Santosh Kashyap implemented a new formation and it proved vital as Mapuia scored Aizawl's second goal. Mapuia slipped from the guard of the Arrows defenders, his first shot hit both the woodwork but on rebound, he didn't make any mistake to double the lead.
Edmund Lalrindika's acrobatic attempt was spectacular for the eye but bore no fruit as it didn't trouble Aizawl's goalkeeper Avilash Paul in the 21st minute.
The home side were presented with a wonderful chance to grab their third goal but Dodoz's powerful shot was thwarted away by Sukham, much to the delight of his teammates. The young players couldn't find their rhythm in the first 45 minute as Aizawl led 2-0 in the first half.
Minutes into the second half, Dodoz was presented with a gem of a chance when he was released by right back Dinliana's defence-splitting pass. The Ivorian striker was one-on-one with the goalkeeper but he blasted the shot over the crossbar.
Arrows fought back and nearly pulled one back in the 50th minute when Anwar Ali's shot from inside the box was superbly parried away by Paul. Manipuri winger Nongdamba Naorem, who had scored one of the best goals in the ongoing league, danced past Aizawl defender but his shot from inside the box couldn't trouble Paul.
To confirm three points was in the bag, Mapuia scored his second and Aizawl's third in the 87th minute when he calmly tucked the ball in the back of the net after Dodoz provided him with a lovely pass from the back.
Aizawl FC are now equal on points with fifth-placed Shillong Lajong who have 21 points with one game in hand. Arrows continue to stay rooted at the bottom with 15 points