The women from Manipur maintained their enviable record intact on Tuesday, but only just.
They made it to the final of the National senior women’s championship for the 24th time in 25 editions. They needed the penalty shoot-out to get past a resolute Odisha at the Corporation Stadium, though; the teams were tied 1-1 at the end of the extra time in the second semifinal.
Earlier, the first semifinal in which Railways beat Mizoram, was also decided in the shoot-out after the 1-1 draw. That match had gone even further – to the sudden death.
After a goalless opening half, Railways took the lead in the 70th minute through Mamta. She finished off a lovely move down the left flank, orchestrated by Tara Khatoon and herself.
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Mizoram equalised in injury time through an error from the Railways goalkeeper Swarnamayee Samal, who failed to gather the ball after a cross from Elizabeth Vanlalmawii into the box. Lalnunsiami drove the ball calmly into the empty corner of the net.
Swarnamayee, however, redeemed herself by bringing off a superb save off the first kick in the shoot-out, taken by Grace Lalrampari Hauhnar. That would prove crucial.
In the second semifinal, the defending champion was rattled early on by an own goal by Yumlembam Pakpi Devi – the Manipur defence panicked following an Odisha counter-attack — but her teammate Yangoijam Kiranbala Chanu put one into the right goalpost with a brilliant corner-kick that beat the goalkeeper and everybody else, in the first half’s injury time.
In the shoot-out, Odisha failed to score even once.
The final will be played on Thursday between Manipur and Railways, which is a repeat of the tournament’s last edition.
The results (semifinals):
Manipur (Yangoijam Kiranbala Chanu 45+3) 1 (3) bt Odisha (Yumlembam Pakpi Devi 11-og) 1 (0).
Railways (Mamta 70) 1 (6) bt Mizoram (Lalnunsiami 90+4) 1 (5).