Senior Women’s NFC: Railways beat Mizoram on penalties to enter final

Kozhikode: The first match of the semi-finals of the Senior Women’s National Football Championship 2021-22 came to an end with Railways running away with a spot in the final by dint of the dreaded penalty shootouts, beating Mizoram 6-5 on penalties, after the match ended 1-1 at extra time at the EMS Corporation Stadium in Kozhikode, Kerala, on Tuesday.

After a goalless first half, Railways went ahead through Mamta on the 70th minute, but Lalnunsiami, better known as Siami, pulled one back in injury time to take the match into extra time. With the scores level after 120 minutes, Railways eventually snatched the win by a 6-5 margin on penalties.

Both teams started with a safety-first approach to assess the opponents first. In the 36th minute, Thansangi of Mizoram missed a brilliant chance from a close-range free-kick, but was fouled at the end.

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Although both teams created equal goal scoring opportunities, neither proved to be clinical in front of goal and at the halfway point, both teams went into the tunnel on level pegging with the scoreline reading 0-0.

It was a box-to-box affair after the changeover, as both teams tried to breach the opponents more than once but eventually last season’s runner-ups Railways, who took the lead midway through the second half. It was Mamta (70′) who opened the scorebook for Railways, giving them the lead into the match. It was a beautiful run by Tara, who quickly passed the ball to Mamta as she chipped it into the goal.

Since then, it was all Railways as they thudded attack after attack, penetrating the opponents. They dominated the exchanges and fostered goal-scoring opportunities but lack of accuracy in front of goal saw a switch in momentum.

Just when the referee was about to blow the final whistle towards the end of injury time, Mizoram made a stunning comeback via Siami’s solo goal which lead the match into extra time.

Both the sides tried and failed to make much headway in the 30 minutes of extra time, and the match headed into the dreaded penalty shootout after 120 minutes of play.

Railways eventually emerged victorious in the shootout, after Grace Lalrampari and Vanlalhmangahzuali missed for Mizoram, while Suprava Samal was the only one to miss for Railways, thus the latter won the shootout by a 6-5 margin.

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