Aizawl FC clinched the first Northeastern derby of the ongoing I-League season after a 2-1 win over Shillong Lajong FC at the Rajiv Gandhi stadium in Aizawl, Mizoram, on Tuesday afternoon. Lalruatthara (32') and Jayesh Rane (63') were on the scoresheet for the home side before Yuta Kinowaki (85') notched the visitors' first goal this season.
The win takes the home side to the top of the table, at least temporarily, for the second time this season while Thangboi Singto's outfit are yet to open their account.
Going into the game, there was just the one change for Aizawl FC from the previous game against Minerva Punjab. Injured striker Kamo Bayi was replaced by H. Lalbiakthanga. On the other side, Dan Ignat and Bipin Singh made way for Sandeep Singh and Redeem Tlang.
It was the visitors who started on the front foot and had the opportunity to give themselves an early lead through a fourth-minute penalty, awarded after Lalruatthara brought down Dicka inside the Aizawl six-yard box. However, goalkeeper Albino Gomes came up with a smart save to deny Fabio Pena from the spot.
Khalid Jamil's side eventually starting making inroads through Mahmoud Al Amenah and Jayesh, though they were unable to penetrate the Lajong defence much. The visitors were soon forced to replace an injured Zodingliana Ralte, in place of whom came Jacob Lalrawngbawla.
Two minutes after the half-hour mark, Aizawl raced into the lead and deservedly so as wing back Lalruatthara's cross was flicked on to his the path again by Alfred Jaryan and the full-back opened his account with a smart strike as the Lajong defenders were caught napping.
Minutes later, Albert Zohmingmawia's effort off Al Amenah'inch-perfect pass went inches wide after taking a deflection as Aizawl continued to surge forward in numbers.
Trailing by a goal at half-time, the Reds from Meghalaya pushed for an equaliser and almost managed to find one in the 47th minute. Alas, Pena's glancing header off Tlang's cross sailed just wide.
Al Amenah showed great vision to lay on chances for his team-mates often. Zohmingliana missed an opportunity in the 55th minute before the Syrian created another chance for Jayesh with an excellent cross from the left in the 63rd minute. The former Mumbai FC player's shot took a wicked deflection off Chinglensana and beat Vishal Kaith in goal to consolidate Aizawl's advantage.
Lajong eventually pulled one back through another penalty in the 83rd minute. Yuta Kinowaki was fouled by Nigerian defender Eze Kingsley and the Japanese midfielder himself stepped up to make it count this time around. But there was no equaliser on offer for Lajong as Aizawl held on to notch another victory.
While Lajong welcome Minerva Punjab at home next time around as they look to break their losing streak, Khalid Jamil's side travels to take on his former club Mumbai FC.