I-League 2017-18: Aizawl FC ride on striker William Lalnunfela's brace to earn a point against East Bengal
Aizawl FC forward William Lalnunfela completed a brilliant brace in the dying minutes to hold East Bengal 2-2 in their thrilling I-League opener.
Kolkata: Aizawl FC forward William Lalnunfela completed a brilliant brace in the dying minutes to hold East Bengal 2-2 in their thrilling I-League opener at the floodlit Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday.
Two former Mohun Bagan teammates, Eduardo Ferreira and Katsumi Yusa, combined well to give East Bengal the lead in the 66th minute and the latter made it 2-0 within six minutes.
After a goalless first hour, all the action centred around the second half as the reigning champions reduced the margin through their 22-year-old forward two minutes after East Bengal took a 2-0 lead.
There was more misery in store as East Bengal blew up the fantastic lead to drop points, much like their arch-rivals Mohun Bagan, as Lalnunfela struck from a goalmouth melee in the stoppage time (90+6th minute).
East Bengal broke the deadlock from a Katsumi Yusa corner and a deflection off Brandon VL was headed home by the Brazilian-born centre-back Ferreira.
The ball went in after it hit the bar and went inside the post and coach Khalid Jamil was seen celebrating.
East Bengal got a second goal within six minutes, much to their fans' joy, with a lucky goal that came off a deflection of their Japanese midfielder from Mohammed Rafique's shot.
Lalnufela struck from a Kareem Omolaja assist with some sloppy East Bengal defence on display inside the box.
There were some more anxious moments in the closing minutes and Aizawl made full use to bang in the equaliser.
East Bengal and Mohun Bagan will now head to the season's first I-League derby on 3 December with a draw each.
Mahmoud Al Amna came close to scoring after switching to the right-flank as Yusa came into a central role and the Syrian midfielder took a shot from the edge of the box, only to miss the far-post.
It was a case of hits and misses in the opening half with Mehtab Singh creating the first opportunity in the seventh minute, but Willis Plaza, who had only the Aizawl goalkeeper Avilash Paul to beat, was off target.
The Trinidadian, who led their attack in Jamil's starting 4-1-4-1 formation, had another opportunity in the 14th minute but this time it was thwarted by Paul as East Bengal pressed for a goal.
The woodwork denied East Bengal an opportunity in the 37th minute when Plaza fired in from 22 yards, only to hit the near post as the red-and-gold fans had to wait till the second half for their much-awaited first goal of the season.
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