U18 I-League: AIFF Academy fight back from behind to defend title

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AIFF Academy fought back after conceding early and ended the match as 2-1 winners over East Bengal to clinch their third successive U18 I-League title

Defending champions AIFF Academy took East Bengal on in the final of the U18 I-League in Barasat Stadium, Kolkata. An end-to-end first half affair saw Bidyashagar Singh open the scoring for East Bengal in the 14th minute before Lalengmawia equalized a minute later and Namgyal Bhutia completed the comeback three minutes from half time.

East Bengal started the game as the dominant team with the better chances. Their hard work finally paid off in the 14th minute when Bidyashagar slotted the ball into the net from inside the box to break the deadlock.

AIFF Academy wasted no time in coming out of their shell and went on to score the equalizer a minute later. Skipper Edmund Lalrindika assisted Lalengmawia’s goal to make it 1-1.

Lalengmawia’s equalizer breathed life into the defending champion’s game and they started knocking on the Red and Gold’s door more often. Roshan Singh came close to giving his side the lead but he failed to convert his chance.

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AIFF Academy finally grabbed the lead three minutes from half time through a penalty. An illegal challenge by East Bengal defender Rahul Ghosh brought Edmund down inside the penalty box before Namgyal stepped up to convert and give a match winning 2-1 lead to his side.

East Bengal came out all guns blazing after the restart. They took control of the game and pinned the winning side to their own halves. Suranjit’s attempt on an equalizer was denied from the goal line only a few minutes into the second half.

The trailing side kept searching for goals but Lalcchanhima and Prakash Sarkar were both denied by goalkeeper Aditya Patra.

AIFF Academy stuck to the basics and thwarted the Red and Gold’s attempts at their goal for the rest of the half to place their hands on the trophy.

 

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