Shillong, Apr 12: The final of the Indian Women’s League (IWL) 2018 will be a rematch of last year’s title contest after defending champions Eastern Sporting Union (ESU) and Rising Students Club came through their respective semifinal fixtures at the JN Stadium here today.

Two thrilling contests were on offer today, with KRYPHSA, who had qualified at the top of the league stage, edged by Rising Students 4-3 on penalties after extra time ended goalless.

The afternoon game also ended 0-0 at the end of 90 minutes, but ESU won it 2-0 over Sethu FC in the first session of extra time, with goals from captain Irom Prameshwori Devi and Mandakini Devi.

Irom Prameshwori Devi (centre) celebrates after scoring Eastern Sporting Union’s first goal against Sethu FC

Irom and Roja Devi were the main threats for ESU, while the Manipur side’s defence, on the other hand, had their work cut out trying to keep Sethu’s Bangladeshi forward Sabina Khatun, who more often than not timed her runs to perfection, quiet at the other end.

Neither team found the mark, however, and an extra 30 minutes were required. Irom put Eastern Sporting into the lead in the 99th minute with a strike from inside the box from an almost impossibly tight angle. However, Sethu – even without Khatun, who had to be substituted because of injury – tried to get back into the game, but Mandakini put the game practically to rest with her goal from a direct free-kick in the 105th minute.

Eastern Sporting Union’s supporters had the most to be happy about

Meanwhile, KRYPHSA were heartbroken after losing out to IWL 2017 runners-up Rising Students in the penalty shootout.

KRYPHSA had qualified at the top of the group standings after scoring 24 goals in their six outings and were one of just two undefeated teams (the other being ESU).

Rising Students and KRYPHSA had drawn their league stage contest 1-1, so it was always going to be close in the last-four stage. Both sides came terribly close to scoring, rattling the woodwork on a few occasions, but couldn’t find a goal and it was Rising Students of Odisha that held on for the victory.

The final will be held on Saturday at the same venue at 4PM. Entry is free.

(TSR photos)

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