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Gokulam Kerala FC 2 (Alex Sanchez, 1, 16)

AIFF Media Team

KALYANI: There is no stopping Gokulam Kerala FC. After drawing their first I-League match of the season against Inter Kashi, Gokulam Kerala have got their act together and have now notched up three wins on the trot. On Monday, November 13, 2023, a day after Diwali, at the Kalyani Stadium in West Bengal, the Malabarians lit up the celebrations by defeating TRAU FC 2-0, giving their fans more reasons to rejoice during the festive season.

For Gokulam, Alex Sanchez led from the front as he scored both the goals in the first half. The brace meant that the prolific Gokulam Kerala captain now has eight goals to his name from four matches. The Kerala team were reduced to 10 men when goalkeeper Devansh Dabas was sent off in the 62nd minute but it didn’t affect the side’s focus. They held on to their lead as TRAU FC suffered their third consecutive loss.

The victory took Gokulam at the top of the I-League table. They have now played four matches and have 10 points in their kitty. TRAU FC, on the other hand, are languishing at the bottom with a point.

Gokulam Kerala started the match on the front foot. In fact, the side took the lead even before TRAU FC settled into the match. A long ball from the deep was nicely controlled by midfielder PN Noufal before he sent in a cross from the right wing. TRAU’s defender Meitankeishangbam Clinton Khuman tried his best to clear only to see the ball floating past him and landing at the feet of Sanchez. The Gokulam Kerala skipper calmly headed the ball into the bottom right corner to give his side the lead.

Gokulam Kerala didn’t have to wait long to extend their lead as their second goal was gifted by TRAU in the 16th minute. TRAU goalkeeper Mithun Samanta failed to handle an innocuous back pass from Clinton and was caught in possession. Sanchez was on the prowl and he punished the TRAU defence for their lackadaisical attitude. The Gokulam Kerala forward seized the ball and buried it to score his second of the match.

Sanchez should have completed his hat-trick in the first half itself but he failed to keep the ball on target on both occasions. TRAU slowly settled into the match but they didn’t really threaten the Gokulam defence. The only time they came close to scoring in the first half was when striker Abraham Okyere took a powerful shot at goal from long distance. However, Dabas was equal to the task as he kept the scoreline same at half time.

Gokulam Kerala started the second half with the same intent before Dabas was shown a red card in the 62nd minute when he fouled striker Ibrahim Balde, who was through on goal. However, TRAU couldn’t take advantage of their numerical advantage as Gokulam defence held firm.