Guwahati: Skipper PC Lallawmkima scored a brace as Army Green made a winning start to its Durand Cup campaign by inflicting a 3-1 defeat on NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) here on Sunday.
Lallawmkima’s twin strikes were accompanied by Somesh Kothari’s goal as the Army team dominated NEUFC.
Dipu Mirdha got a consolation for NEUFC in stoppage time.
Both teams began in a lively fashion but it was the Army men who were decisive in the middle. They drew first blood in the ninth minute through their captain, whose run was found perfectly by an overhead pass from Sochin Chhetri.
One of the greatest Services footballers of recent times, Lallawmkima, probably in an attempt to reach out and receive, ended up chipping past keeper Nikhil Deka beautifully from a close range.
Army Green stepped up the pressure post the goal with the young NEUFC side finding it difficult to contain the continuous attacks. Chhetri and Roel Lepcha were brilliant in the middle while Gautam Singh was proving to be a menace all across the pitch.
The pressure resulted in the second goal. Somesh started the attack from the right and cushioned the ball to an overlapping Chabin Rabha whose shot was saved by the goalkeeper but the rebound fell kindly back to Somesh, who headed it into an empty net.
In the second half, NEUFC created some chances which could not be converted by Mirdha.
The experience and physicality of the Army men were too much to handle for the youngsters from NEUFC as they continued to attack.
Army Green increased their lead in the 55th minute through Lallawmkima, who deservedly bagged the Man of the Match. A link-up play from the left by Somesh and Gautam found the skipper unmarked at the far post, who just had to tap in.
Army Green continued with possession dominance and created chances while the Highlanders could not produce any clear-cut openings and all their attempts were straight at the Army keeper Puia, who did not have to work much to keep them away.
A consolation goal did come the Highlanders’ way in injury time when Mirdha got to the end off a through ball from Alfred. The goal sent the crowd into a frenzy.
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