Mizoram pocket maiden crown

Zico strikes twice in 3-0 win over Railways

Mizoram blanked Railways 3-0 in a one-sided final of the 68th National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy here on Sunday.

Zico Zoremsanga (43rd, 59th) scored on either side of half-time and a second-half injury-time strike from F Lalrinpuia helped the north eastern state to romp home in style. This is Mizoram’s maiden Santosh Trophy triumph.

Railways – who had not won the Santosh Trophy since 1966 – came closest when Rajesh S’s close-range header came off the bar.

Courtesy their triumph, Mizoram bagged a purse of Rs 5 lakh, while runners-up Railways pocketed Rs 3 lakh.

Railways started the match in ascendancy with three quick corners but it was Mizoram who first tested the rival ‘keeper Ehtesham Ahmed with shots from Lalnunmawia and Lalbiakhlua.

Railways, who went into the match sans their centrebacks, were resilient with the makeshift pairing of Akhil Rajbanshi and Dipankar Das.
The first-half was end to end but the final ball was proving to be luxury for both sets of players before Rajesh struck the woodwork.

Moments later, Mizoram took the lead.

Zico, who had already scored three times in the tournament so far, took Lalrinpuia’s ball, swivelled past his marker before slotting the ball into the far corner. 

Calling the shots

It was Mizoram who called the shots after the break. Three minutes into the half, Lalrinpuia unleashed a powerful left-footer which was fisted out by Ahmed but only as far as Lalnunmawia who side-netted his close range effort off the rebound.

But the red shirts who have been the flavour of the current tournament, did not have to wait long to double their advantage.

Zico was in the thick of things again as Mizoram broke on the counter. Lalbiakhlua teed up the goalscorer who did exceptionally well to round the goalkeeper and shoot into an empty net.

The second goal deflated Railways’ spirit and the three-time champions looked to have thrown in the towel with their high-flying counterparts dominating possession.
Lalrinpuia added the icing on the cake with the third goal in injury time.

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