Debutants Aizawl FC produced an impressive performance to outclass defending champions Mohun Bagan 2-1 in an I-League football match at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Saturday.
Joel Sunday opened the scoring for the hosts in the third minute but Cornell Glen found the much needed equaliser (24th minute). But Lalchhawnkima (54th) scored from the spot to hand the visitors their first defeat of the 2015-16 I-League season.
Aizawl FC scored an early goal when Joel curled a pass from Brandon. The Nigerian striker, having collected the ball, outfoxed Kingshuk Debnath and slotted it towards the far-end of the net. Bagan goalkeeper Debjit Majumder threw himself but couldn't save the scintillating effort from Sunday.
Bagan came back strongly in the match when Glen, having capitalised on an error made by Aizawl keeper Lalawmpuia and defender Lalthakima, tapped it home to shut the 6,000-odd Aizawl FC supporters. The first half ended 1-1.
After the break, the Aizawl players were at the top of their game and Bagan defenders had a torrid time containing the agile attackers. Finally, the home side found the elusive goal from the penalty.
Aizawl defender Lalruatthara tried his luck from inside the box but it was blocked by Dhanachandra Singh with his hand. The referee didn't hesitate to award a penalty in favour of the home team and flashed the yellow for the sturdy defender. Lalchhawnkima converted the penalty calmly to send the crowd into ecstasy.
Bagan's Shankarlal Chakraborty praised the home team for their swashbuckling display.
"We did not play good football, especially in the second half. Aizawl FC were the better side and they deserved to get three points," Chakraborty said.
Aizawl FC coach Jahar Das also praised his boys.
"Our team plays a good brand of football even when we don't earn points. I expect us to do so even in the coming matches. This is not just a victory for Aizawl FC. It is a victory for Mizoram," Das said.
With three more points, Aizawl FC now have 12 and move up the table, leapfrogging Shillong Lajong FC, whom they are scheduled to meet on April 1 in the return leg. Mohun Bagan, however, are still perched at the top with a three-point gap over Bengaluru FC, who have played one match less than the Kolkata giants.