AIFF Media Team
BENGALURU: Real Kasmir FC beat Ozone FC Bengaluru 3-2 to begin their final round campaign in the 2017/18 Hero 2nd Division League at the FSV Arena in Bengaluru on Thursday (May 24, 2018).
With the win, Real Kashmir top the standings after the conclusion of round 1 but they never had it all their own way as they were made to sweat for victory by Ozone who led twice courtesy Robert De Souza (26′) and Sabeeth Sathyan (67′) but the Kashmir outfit kept their composure and scored though Nadong Bhutia (39′), Ritwik Kumar Das (89′) and Yao Kouassi Bernard (90+5′) to bag full three points.
Ozone began the match with good pace and high energy levels, aggressively pressing from the front. Contrary to Ozone’s approach, Real Kashmir preferred to remain compact and dropped back.
The Real Kashmir defenders were not allowed a lot of time on the ball and were therefore forced to hoof it upfield in the hoping that Bernard would be able to compete.
However, Nadong and Bernard were not quick enough to close down and as such the Ozone centre-backs had time to pick their passes.
With Ozone gaining momentum, Robert found some space inside the Real Kashmir box and when he was about to pull the trigger goalkeeper Sukhwinder Singh fouled him which earned a penalty for Ozone which the Brazilian dully converted to put his side ahead in the 26th minute.
It could have been 2-0 in the 33rd minute when Gunashekhar Vignesh collected a Real Kashmir clearance just over the half-way line before launching a menacing counter-attack, which Real Kashmir were fortunate to escape from after Vignesh scuffed his effort over the post.
However, Real Kashmir, against the run of play, equalized when Nadong slotted from Ifham Tariq Mir’s pass in the 39th minute to level matters before half-time.
Real Kashmir started the second-half much like they ended the first, as they enjoyed prolong periods inside the Ozone half, and Bernard won a free-kick in a promising area, which Ozone goalkeeper Abhishek Das sent wide in the 49th minute.
Nonetheless, Ozone restored their lead through Sabeeth who slotted home following a goal-mouth scramble in the 67th minute.
Real Kashmir, however, did not lose hope and continued pressing for an equalizer in the final quarter of the game and found it through defender Ritwik Kumar Das in the 89th minute before Bernard slotted home the winner in stoppage time.
Real Kashmir will play TRAU FC next on Sunday (May 27, 2018) before Ozone FC and Hindustan FC face off earlier on the same day.