Gokulam Kerala – 2 (Shibil Mohammed 81’, 90’)
Chennai City – 3 (Fito Miranda 44’, Pravitto Raju 55’, Sriram B 77’)
Kozhikode, January 09, 2020: Hero I-League, today, witnessed a nail-biting encounter as the fight for southern supremacy saw Chennai City FC defeat Gokulam Kerala FC 3-2 at the EMS Corporation Stadium in Kozhikode.
The match saw three marching orders and five goals much to the interest of 19-thousand odd crowd at the EMS Corporation Stadium, who found it rather hard to take their eyes off the game after a slow first half.
The first half started on a dull note as both the teams were failing to gain any momentum. Neither Chennai nor the home side Gokulam was picking up the pace as the build-up play was very slow from both the teams.
In the 24th minute, Gokulam got a free-kick just outside the box and Marcus Joseph took the shot straight to the keeper. In the 33rd minute, another chance came for Gokulam when a ball from the right flank into the box was met by a weak header by Henry Kisekka and it was easily cleared by the Chennai keeper.
Chennai who was looking out of sorts for most of the half brought in a change as Pravitto Raju, a midfielder came on for Tarif Akhand in the 37th minute.
A change in the formation worked wonders for Chennai as a through ball from the left side of the mid-field went through three Gokulam defenders and Fito Miranda was there to receive it.
In the 45th minute, he very swiftly put the ball passed the Gokulam keeper and Chennai was ahead against the run of play with the Gokulam defenders left to appeal helplessly for an offside. The goal pumped in renewed energy and Adolfo Miranda was again in the thick of things, his through ball was met by Katsumi Yusa’s run and a shot which was saved by the home team keeper.
With no further goal in the half, Chennai went into the half leading 1-0 against the Kerala outfit.
The play resumed and Gokulam was on the attack. In the 51st minute, a chance came the way of Marcus Joseph from a lob over the defenders but poor control let him down and Santana made a good save to keep him out.
In the 55th minute, things went from bad to worse for Gokulam as a mistake in the midfield set up a counter for Chennai. Katsumi got the ball and passed it to Adolfo Miranda whose shot was stopped the Gokulam keeper but off the rebound, Pravitto Raju made no mistake and his left-footed shot put the visitors 2-0 up in the match.
Gokulam had no other option but to attack to make something out of the match. In the 73rd minute, Marcus Joseph got a free-kick just outside the box and a beautiful curling shot was saved by a diving Santana to his right. Another chance came three minutes later when Henry Kisseka made a brilliant run and but a Marcus Joseph effort was fended away by Santana.
The save set off a counter-attack and Syed Suhail Pasha led from the front in the attack. With some great skills inside the box he turned the defender inside out and a perfectly placed low cross at the feet of Sriram B, who tapped in the third goal for Chennai with 77 minutes ticking on the clock.
Gokulam, though, pulled a goal back very soon, in the 81st minute, as Shibil Muhammed’s shot from outside the box found the back of the net. The score now stood at 3-1 in favour of Chennai.
An unfortunate even though took place as a head-on collision between Bhaskaran and a Chennai attacker ended up with the Kerala goalkeeper being taken off the field in an ambulance. With no substitutions left, Gokulam was down to 10 men and Amiri put on the gloves.
It was the edge of the seat stuff and a free-kick for Marcus Joseph in the 90th minute from the left side of the Chennai box found the substitute Shibil Muhammed again and he made no mistake scoring the second for the home team as well as himself.
Gokulam was losing their cool now, as an uncalled temper tantrum by Mohamed Irshad in the added time earned him a second yellow. Within a minute, Gokulam were down to eight men when Haroon Amiri joined in the act with a rash tackle on Sriram.
The roller coaster continued, as it was now Chennai’s turn for inviting a send-off. Mashoor Shareef, who came with just five minutes left in the regulation time, earned his second yellow card within just ten minutes of being on the field.
It was intense and there was more drama to unfold as Henry Kisseka got a golden chance with moments to go before the end of the match, but his shot went just wide of the post. The match, which gave the impression that it won’t end finally came to a closure with Chennai escaping narrowly with a 3-2 win.
Chennai City Sriram B won the Hero of the Match award. Chennai City, with eight points from six matches, have now risen to fourth in the Hero I-League table.