Naihati (Kolkata), Nov 3 (SocialNews.XYZ) Mohammedan Sporting were held to a 1-1 draw by Shillong Lajong FC in the latter’s opening fixture of I-League 2023-24 at the Naihati Stadium in Kolkata on Friday.
Takuto Miki scored for Shillong Lajong in added time after the first half (45+1). They dominated the proceedings and had the better of the exchanges but Mohammedan Sporting saved their blushes in the 53rd minute when David Lalhlansanga equalised the score.
Unfazed about playing in front of a partisan crowd, it was Shillong Lajong who created the bulk of the chances in the first half. The first of those changes came as early as the third minute, as Brazilian midfielder Renan Paulino lined up a freekick right at the edge of the Mohammedan box. The free kick hit the wall, but off the ricochet, Paulino let loose a volley that drifted just wide.
The tone was somewhat set for the game, Lajong the team, who played the ball neatly in the channels, interchanging passes at pace and never allowing Mohammedan to settle. The home side largely played on the counter and were overly reliant on their Argentine playmaker Alexis Gomez to create anything of note.
Just as it seemed the misses would come to haunt Lajong and Mohammedan started growing in the game, Miki struck. Allen Camper Lyngdoh’s cross wasn’t dealt with well enough by a Mohammedan defence and Miki latched onto a headed clearance to volley his shot into the bottom right. Lajong had a well-deserved lead.
Mohammedan came with renewed vigour into the second half and in the 53rd minute had levelled the game. Played through by Gomez, the second-half substitute David Lalhlansanga drove into the box, before cutting to his right foot, deceiving two defenders and rifling his shot into the net to spark celebrations in the stands.
Lajong had a chance to hit straight back within 10 minutes, Paulino launching a brilliant run and then playing a through ball to Sangti Shianglong in the box. The midfielder shot high.
With fatigue setting in, both sides laboured towards finding an opening and the game hinges on a moment of magic, or madness. Despite Mohammedan’s extensive pressure it ended up being neither as the teams took a point apiece.