I-League 2017-18: Aizawl FC 1-2 NEROCA FC: Newbies complete come-from-behind win against champions
The title-holders lost their second home game of the season as the Manipur-based side extended their unbeaten run to nine games...

NEROCA FC scored twice in the second half to defeat Aizawl FC 2-1 away from home in the 2017-18 I-League at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Aizawl on Saturday.

Though Kareem Omolaja Nurain (39') opened the scoring for the hosts, Felix Chidi (65') and Nedo Turkovic (85') ensured the newly-promoted side beat the defending champions.

With Masih Saighani suspended, C Lalrosanga slotted into the centre of the Aizawl defence and Lalram Hmunmawia shifted to left-back. Yugo Kobayashi and Lalthathanga Khawlhring were brought in as Shylo Malsawmtluanga and William Lalnunfela were on the bench.

NEROCA manager Gift Raikhan on his part decided to go in with an unchanged side that defeated Indian Arrows in 2-0 in Goa.

Aizawl FC were the early aggressors and in the first minute of the game, they had a chance. Albert Zohmingmawia delivered a ball to Kobayashi into the box but the ball fell to Andrei Ionescu who forced Shambhu Mitry into a diving save.

NEROCA had few opportunities to impress in the first twenty minutes. The deadlock was almost broken by Ionescu, who had another chance but saw his shot rebound off the bar. 

Shambhu Mistry was called into action again as Kobayashi got a shot away on the turn after latching on to Ionescu's pass into the box. The Kolkata-born gloveman denied him with a diving save to his left.

Akhlidin Israilov was soon taken off as Raikhan threw in Serbian forward Nedo Turkovic into the mix past the half-hour mark. Aizawl skipper Alfred Jaryan then had a couple of chances but failed to find the net from two quick attempts in the 35th minute as he hit the post. 

But Kareem Omolaja opened the scoring four minutes later for the hosts. Albert won a corner and Varney Kallon cleared the initial danger. Ionescu delivered the a ball again into the box for the Nigerian to head home and give Paulo Meneses' men the lead.

Just at the stroke of half-time, Felix Chidi found Subhash Singh on the run but the former Mohun Bagan winger missed the target. 

The visitors started with the right intent in the second period but Subhash could not get to the end of Nedo Turkovic's dangerous cross across the face of goal.
 
Ionescu, the Romanian playmaker, dissected the NEROCA defence numerous time with ease but a second goal eluded them. 

Felix Chidi saw a penalty shout turned down after going down during Aryn William's freekick into the Aizawl box. But the Nigerian soon brought up the equaliser from Nedo Turkovic's brilliant cross from the right. Though Avilash Paul did well to deny Chidi's first effort, none of the defenders backed up and Chidi turned home the loose ball with ease. 

Aizawl did have chances to regain the lead but came up short. 

However, it was NEROCA who got the lead as second-half substitute David Lalbiakzara helped Nedo Turkovic nod the ball in, thanks to a little deflection off Felix, past a hapless Avilash with five minutes left on the clock. 

The defending champions, a goal down, then turned on the heat. Lalnunfela did his side no favours as the striker blocked his teammate Jaryan's header from a flag-kick which was going straight into the net.

Mistry then pulled off a diving save to deny Kobayashi from close range late into added time but NEROCA held on to extend their unbeaten streak to nine games.

The Manipur based side leapfrogged East Bengal into second spot with 21 points in their kitty. Aizawl FC remained fifth as they host Mohun Bagan next at the same venue on Thursday.

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