Defending champions Gokulam Kerala FC continued their winning run in the I-League, defeating Aizawl FC 1-0 in a well-contested second round tie at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Aizawl on Friday.
Thahir Zaman’s perfect header three minutes from the final whistle proved enough for the Malabarians to return to the dressing room with three points and stay at the table top with six points from two encounters.
The match started with Gokulam Kerala making the initial attacks through the wings, but soon the home side grew into the game and the tie turned into a midfield tussle.
As the first half progressed, Gokulam’s Cameroonian striker Auguste Somlaga was involved into some positive moves but he was suitably dealt with by the Aizawl defensive duo of Emmanuel Makinde and Akito Saito.
After some time, the home side also pressed high and initiated a few moves. Their best attempt of the half came two minutes from halftime when Aizawl’s Henry Kisseka launched a shot from the left flank but his effort just went wide.
The game restarted with Aizawl FC showing lots of urgency on the front foot. The home team came close to scoring in the 53rd minute with R Ramdinthara, who received the ball in the box following good build-up from the wing, couldn’t keep his shot in control. A minute later, Aizawl received a corner kick which resulted in a powerful header from Nigerian Makinde. His header skimmed past the post.
The vociferous fans kept motivating the home team as they continued to press through their quick passing game. Aizawl’s 20-year-old R Lalthanmawia tried a right footed curler, but his shot went straight at the Gokulam Kerala goalkeeper Shibinraj Kunniyil.
The visitors, on the other hand, remained organised throughout and absorbed all the pressure from the home team, while making regular moves into the rival area.
Their grit proved to be successful as they scored the match-winner in the 87th minute. An inch-perfect cross from the right by Arjun Jayaraj was neatly finished by substitute Thahir Zaman.
During the add-on time, Kisseka found himself unmarked during a corner kick but he couldn’t keep his header on target, thus losing the opportunity to equalise. The home side made a charge in the final minutes of the game but it wasn’t enough for them as Gokulam Kerala clinched all three points.
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