One goal each in the first half from Nicholas Fernandes and Loveday Enyinnaya helped Sporting registered their first I-League victory of this season as they beat Aizawl FC 2 – 0 on Monday in a match played at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Aizawl. Both the goals came in spectacular fashion as Nicholas scored within 16 second from the kick off making it one of the fastest goals I-League has seen while Loveday scored with a long range effort right from the half way mark giving the Goan side a perfect start to their campaign in the highlands.
Sporting started off in style when Nicholas Fernandes capitalized on a defensive error made by Lalruatthara of Aizawl in the opening minute of the game to give Sporting the exact kind of start they were looking for. While Sporting enjoyed the early lead they also ensured to maintain the pressure forcing the Aizawl players to play deep in their half. Nicholas Fernandes and Odafa Okolie combined well giving a good mix of pace and power as they kept testing the Aizawl defense at regular intervals. Aizawl tried getting back in the game but couldn’t really convert some of the promising moves created by their artistic midfield.
The Sporting’s pressure paid off as their Nigerian import Loveday Enyinnaya scored a screamer from half way mark with a pin point shot beating the keeper perfectly to give the Oranje unit a comfortable 2- 0 lead in the 30th minute. Towards the closing stages of first half Aizawl forwards managed to get a few shots but were either off target or saw the Sporting custodian Arindam Bhattacharya pull out some magnificent saves. The match stayed at 2 – 0 as the sides switched over.
Second half saw a more organized Aizawl side trying to get back into the game with urgency. They attacked right from the kick off and came close to scoring on two occasions but the in-form Arindam had different plans. He was having a fantastic outing making some magnificent saves from point blank range.
The best chance of second half came Aizawls way in the 62nd minute as Valpuia missed a sitter from hand shaking distance. At the other end Pratesh Shirodkar of Sporting send a powerful shot straight into the hands of the keeper. Rest of the time saw Sporting players trying to maintain possession and frustrated the Aizawl midfield which by then had completely run out of steam. At full time the score stayed 2-0 in favour of Sporting. The Flaming Oranje defender Loveday Enyinnaya picked up hero of the match award for his fantastic goal and outstanding defensive contribution in the game.
A jubilant Sporting Coach Mateus Costa said “We played well; this is exactly what I wanted the boys to do. They have shown true character in scripting this victory.”
He further added “We have had some fine training sessions it was just the matter of emulating the same in a match, they did it perfectly today.”
When quizzed about the Aizawl side he said “They have some fine players and can be really dangerous from the flanks. We had done our homework and stuck to our plan it worked well for us. We are really happy to pocket the three points and most importantly keeping a clean sheet.”