Rajasthan United FC 1 (Marin Mudrazija 90+2′)
Real Kashmir FC 0
AIFF Media Team
The first half of the game was defined by a series of near misses and what-ifs, the biggest of which arrived from the de facto home side Rajasthan United in the first quarter of the game. Having been played through on goal via a brilliant through ball, Lalchungnunga Chhangte seemed to have beaten the keeper with his effort, only to see it bounce off the post and cleared to safety.
Despite the huge gap between the two teams on the table — and the fact that Real Kashmir had recently beaten the then-unbeaten table-toppers Mohammedan Sporting — Rajasthan United looked the fresher and hungrier unit, and had more shots and possession through the first half of the game. The only real occasion on which Bhabindra Malla Thakuri was tested in the Desert Warriors’ goal was via a low cross in the box, by Krizo.
Rajasthan’s wingers kept the pressure up on a brittle Real Kashmir defence through the second half, and yet it was Malla Thakuri who was called into desperate action more often than his opposite number several times in the second half. On one occasion it took his timely intervention to tip over an overhit cross from the right to prevent what would have been a shock Real Kashmir opener.
Just when it seemed like the game would peter out to a goalless draw Rajasthan struck, in injury time no less. From Hardik Bhatt’s throw-in on the right, Jefferson de Oliveira sowed enough panic inside the box via his size to induce a game of ping-ball. Real Kashmir were unable to clear their lines and a loose ball fell to Marin Mudrazija inside the six-yard box. The Croatian took the volley on the turn and put it into the far bottom corner, sparking jubilant celebrations on the touchline. The win took Rajasthan to relative safety and put a gap between them clear of the bottom two, while dealing a big blow to Real Kashmir’s recently ignited title hopes.