Gokulam Kerala proved to be much stronger for young Shillong Lajong as they muscled their way to a 3-1 win in an I-League clash at the EMS Corporation Stadium here on Sunday.
Gani Nigam, Antonio German and Rajesh S scored for Gokulam while Buam was the lone scorer for Shillong Lajong FC. Gani Nigam was adjudged the Hero of the Match.
Gokulam went on the offence from the first minute. Their first effort to score happened in the third minute when Suhair VP made a fine cross from the left but before German could find the space to head it, Lajong’s Aiban made a fine diving interception to clear the ball out of danger.
Both teams were playing attacking football, however, it was Gokulam Kerala FC who created chances more often to land in a strong scoring position.
Shillong looked more organised all throughout with a fantastic defence line and an equally agile goalkeeper in Neithovilie who blocked and cleared all scoring opportunities for Gokulam Kerala.
Lajong’s forward line also played an impressive game in the first half making some dangerous attempts but failed to convert any thanks to some fine saves from Kerala’s Shibinraj.
A foul in the 42nd minute from Shillong Lajong’s Novin on Kerala’s Brazilian midfielder Castro ended up in a free kick for the hosts.
A minute later when Castro took this free kick from outside the box, Gani Ahmed made no mistakes in collecting the ball and finding the back of the net giving Gokulam Kerala FC a much-deserved lead in the game. The first half came to an end with Gokulam leading by a solitary goal.
The second half began with the hosts kick-starting the attack but their attempts were duly foiled by the Lajong defenders, but not for long.
In the 56th minute, Antonio German found the back of the net for Gokulam Kerala FC to give them a comfortable two-goal lead in the game.
Gokulam, thereafter, shifted gears with most of the game happening in Lajong’s half. The young Lajong defenders were kept busy by Gokulam forwards when a brilliant cross from Gani Ahmed in the 66th minute inside the box saw Rajesh find the back of the net through a flying kick.
With this goal, the scoreboard read 3-0 in favour of the hosts. Shillong Lajong FC, who are the only all-Indian team apart from Indian Arrows in the 12th I-League, played beautiful football even after a three-goal deficit and finally, their efforts paid off in the 78th minute, when Phrangki Buam scored an excellent goal from a clever pass from Sheen just outside the box.
In the dying minutes of the game, Shillong would have pumped in another goal but failed to convert the same from just in front of the Gokulam Kerala’s goal. A second Yellow card for Lajong’s Novin Gurung in the 94 minutes saw the young defender walk out of the pitch. The game came to an end with Gokulam Kerala FC defeating Lajong 3-1.