Mason Robertson's fine brace helped a dominant Real Kashmir FC beat Aizawl FC 3-1 and jump to the top of the I-League table at the VYBK Stadium in Kolkata on Tuesday. (More Football News)
After a defensive error had given Aizawl FC the lead through Lalremsanga in the 26th minute, Lukman Adefemi's strike in the first half and a double by Robertson in the second powered the Snow Leopards to a thumping win.
With the win, Real Kashmir FC extended their unbeaten streak to nine games and could remain on top of the I-League table, if Churchill Brothers drop points against NEROCA on Wednesday.
In what was a cagey first half between the two sides, it took two moments of defensive errors from either team to let the other score. However, it was Aizawl who tried to breach the Real Kashmir FC citadel with their possession-heavy style of football from the opening minutes.
In the eighth minute, Real Kashmir goalkeeper Mithun Samanta was forced to make his first save of the match when Ramhlunchhunga sent a powerful shot. But it was to no avail as Samanta kept the shot out.
The Snow Leopards, boasting one of the best defences in the league so far, relied on counter-attack and direct football. That almost paid dividends for them in the 14th minute when midfielder Farhan Gani sent Dipanda Dicka on to the goal. But Dicka's effort was cut short by a crunching Lalchungnunga tackle.
A defensive error in the 26th minute saw the Snow Leopards citadel crumble while giving Aizawl FC the lead.
A goal-kick by Aizawl FC's custodian was misjudged by Mason Robertson and the ball bounced over him as it caught Pawan Kumar in an awkward position. It ultimately led to Lalremsanga picking up the pieces and slotting it past a hapless Samanta.
Real Kashmir trailed only eight minutes and in the 34th minute, Robertson made amends. With the Aizawl FC defence switched off, Robertson's long throw-in from the left flank found Lukman Adefemi, who unleashed a header from close range to restore parity.
The Snow Leopards were given a golden opportunity to surge into the lead when Lukman Adefemi's header off a Robertson cross forced the opposition goalkeeper to make a save.
The rebound, however, found Dicka inside the box, but with the goalkeeper out of his line and no real covering at goal, Dicka skied his shot from close range as Aizawl survived.
Yan Law's Aizawl were not so lucky in the 56th minute. Pratesh Shirdokar's free-kick from a distance found Robertson in the box and his free header found the bottom-right corner to hand Real Kashmir the lead.
In the 68th minute, Robertson's long throw-in once again found Lukman Adefemi inside the box in almost a replay of the first goal. However, this time, the Aizawl FC goalkeeper heroically saved Adefemi's header to deny him from close range.
Scotsman Robertson was not done with the action, however. In the 72nd minute, he stood tall over a free-kick from 30 yards out and curled it into the back of the net to make it 3-1.
Though Aizawl FC tried to make a comeback, the lead proved to be unassailable for Yan Law's side.
With the loss, Aizawl FC sit on 12 points from nine matches and could find themselves in the bottom half of the table before the round ends.