Guwahati, Feb 28: They gave it their absolute all, but Meghalaya were bested by Mizoram 3-1 in a tiebreaker to settle the final of the U-21 Dr T Ao Football Tournament at the SAI Stadium here today.
Full time ended 1-1 and the game went directly to penalties after that. Mizoram had taken the lead in the 27th minute through Lalnunthuanga but Ronaldkydon Lyngdoh Nonglait equalised with a 65th minute penalty after he was fouled in the box.
Meghalaya, however, looked a little rusty when it came to spot kicks in the tiebreaker and after Nonglait scored the first the next three didn’t find the mark.
The start of the game saw Meghalaya earn a few promising chances, but they didn’t test the opposition goalkeeper enough.
In the fourth minute Robert Khongjoh fed the ball neatly to Figo Syndai but the latter dragged his shot wide. Ten minutes later Khongjoh himself would go for goal but his attempt was blocked by the keeper.
At the other end Meghalaya goalie Frolicson Dkhar made a stunning double reaction save to deny Mizoram, who later went even closer with a shot that hit the upright and stayed out.
Syndai was then gifted the ball by a Mizoram error in the 25th minute but he miscued his shot.
That was Meghalaya’s story in the first half and they were made to pay when Mizoram scored via a header off a cross two minutes later.
In the second half Dkhar demonstrated why he deserved his Best Goalkeeper award at the closing ceremony when he continued his sterling effort between the sticks to deny Mizoram on numerous occasions.
The decision by the referee to award the penalty made the Mizoram players see red. They became extremely frustrated and committed a string of rough fouls in the minutes that followed and came close to drawing a red card no doubt.
But they managed to settle down and for the last 10 minutes completely dominated proceedings, with Meghalaya largely unable to gain meaningful control of the ball.
Meghalaya ended up with Rs 4 lakh as runners-up, with Rs 8 lakh going to Mizoram.
(TSR photo of the Meghalaya team)