Imphal: Neroca FC beat Aizawl FC 1-0 to win the first Northeastern derby of I-League 2019-20, as Ousmane Diawara's goal in the 28th minute was the only separating factor. Aizawl, who dominated the possession with 57 per cent of the ball, failed to convert any of their 15 shots in the match.
The match started with both the teams looking to move forward in the initial moments of the game. Though Neroca FC were enjoying the majority of the possession, Aizawl looked sharp with their passing and running with the ball.
The first major chance of the half came in the 13th minute for the home team but Chanso Horam, who had a clear shot on the left flank, failed to convert the same. With this first chance, Neroca FC was slowly growing in confidence and this time the chance came from the right side but the young no.9 Khaiminthang Lhungdim side-netted his shot in the 22nd minute.
The crunch moment of the game came in the 27th minute when Neroca got a free-kick from just outside the 18-yard box. Zodingliana was vested with the responsibility and a thunderous left-footed kick hit the goal post and Ousmane Diawara capitalized on the rebound, as he put the ball in the back of the net with 28 mins on the clock.
On the 34th minute, from a free-kick just outside the box, Aizawl FC's Paul Ramfangzauva struck a thunderous shot but the Neroca FC Goalkeeper flew to his right and made a tremendous save to keep his team's lead intact.
In the dying minutes of the half, Aizawl FC was making good advances especially down the right flank as Isak Vanlalruatfela was creating problems for the defence. With just a few seconds remaining in the first half, Neroca FC got another chance to double their lead but the shot on goal by Chanso Horam was deflected from the body of an Aizawl FC defender for a corner.
The first half ended with the home team leading 1-0.
After the changeover, Aizawl FC got a corner but the resulting header was cleared by the Neroca FC defence from the goal line. In the 66th minute, Aizawl FC brought on K. Lalhmangaihkima for William Lalnunfela in order to provide better supply to Abdoulaye Kanoute.
Soon after, Neroca FC made a tactical change by bringing on a midfielder Ronald Singh for Khaiminthang Lhungdim.
Aizawl FC was continuously pushing forward but wasn't able to break the Neroca FC defence. The away team came very near to clinching an equaliser in the dying moments but the shot from the outside of the box rattled the Neroca FC goal post and went out of bound. The search for an equaliser finally ended in vain as Neroca FC held on to their slender lead and the match ended in favour of the home team.