Jugovic breaks Aizawl hearts

Striker condemns Jamil's side to 0-1 defeat

Jugovic breaks Aizawl hearts
Champions Bengaluru FC dealt a major blow to Aizawl FC’s hopes of winning their first-ever I-League title with a 1-0 win at the Sree Kanteerava stadium here on Sunday.

In what was an early kick-off than usual, striker Marijan Jugovic (90+4 minutes) scored at the death to deny three points to the visitors in what was a crucial game for the team from the north east.

The loss means, Aizawl continue to occupy the top spot in the league with 30 points from 15 games. But Mohun Bagan have now closed the gap to a point after their win over East Bengal. The Mariners are second with 29 points from 14 games, while East Bengal have slipped to third with 27 points from 15 games.

On the day, Aizawl did everything right. They dominated the game, created more chances and even tested the goalkeeper with their powerful shots. But somehow, they just couldn’t find the back of the net.

Starting the game in a calm manner, Aizawl let Bengaluru have the major chunk of the possession. Bengaluru built their attack from the back while Aizawl defended a high line giving their opponents no room to exploit.

Bengaluru did venture out in phases with Udanta Singh and Sunil Chhetri making good use of their pace. Udanta combined with Daniel Lalhlimpuia upfront a few times too, but the striker did little to justify the faith as chances went abegging.

Close to the half hour mark, Bengaluru suffered a blow as a Kingsley Eze tackle floored Udanta and the winger was in no shape to continue. Though Cameron Watson found an unmarked Juan Gonzales from the resulting corner, the Spaniard's powerful hit couldn’t wriggle past a crowded Aizawl defence.

With Udanta being pulled out, Bengaluru lost the pace in their attack, which allowed Aizawl to breath and build their moves without much trouble. Alfred Jaryan and Mahmoud Al Amnah bossed the midfield while Jayesh Rane was a constant threat on the wings, using his pace and skills to good effect.

Al Amnah and Rane combined time and again with the latter troubling Gonzales with his nippy runs. One such move could have proved dangerous when Al Amnah found Rane and the Mumbai lad lofted the ball over the Bengaluru defence for an on-rushing Laldanmawia Ralte. But unfortunately for Aizawl, Ralte was marginally off-side and the linesman was quick to spot that.

Restricted to shooting from a distance for the majority of the game, Aizawl did test Amrinder Singh in the Bengaluru goal.

However, all of Aizawl’s persistence eventually faded off as Bengaluru sneaked ahead in a very unlikely fashion in what was all but the last move of the game.

Though the Bengaluru head coach Albert Roca threw in Jugovic in place of Lyngodh at the hour mark, the Serbian was hardly a trouble for the Aizawl defence until the final move as he rose high enough to beat his marker and noded in a Chhetri free-kick in the injury time to seal the deal.

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