Gokulam Kerala FC showcased their dominance in the Kerala derby on Sunday, August 13, defeating Kerala Blasters FC with a score of 4-3. This victory solidified their position as formidable contenders in Group C of the 2023 Durand Cup.
The Malabarains took a commanding 4-1 lead in the match. Despite the Blasters’ efforts to mount a comeback, the Malabarains ultimately clinched the three points.
In the initial stages, the Blasters controlled possession. On the other side of the field, the Malabarians adopted a defensive 4-5-1 formation, allowing their opponents to have the ball.
The tactics employed by the team turned out to be successful. They utilised the open areas behind the opposing defence and made the most of their initial chance from a set-piece scenario.
A well-delivered corner kick by Nili Perdomo was met by Aminou Bouba, who skillfully directed his header into the top corner. It enabled his team to seize the lead in the 17th minute.
The Blasters’ relentless attacking efforts bore fruit with only ten minutes left in the first half. The goalkeeper initially saved Adrian Luna’s free-kick but ended up in a congested group of players.
In the ensuing chaos inside the penalty area, debutant Justine skillfully redirected the ball into the net, restoring parity in the match.
However, Gokulam Kerala defied the game’s flow and surged ahead towards the end of the first half. A series of defensive errors committed by the Blasters created an opening for Alex Sanchez to deliver a well-placed cross into the penalty box.
Seizing the opportunity, Sreekutan VS positioned himself perfectly and headed the ball into the net, giving Gokulam Kerala the lead.
Despite dominating possession, Kerala Blasters struggled with their defence against counter-attacks, a vulnerability that again resulted in conceding a goal in injury time.
Perdomo played a penetrating pass to Sanchez, but unfortunately, it was inadvertently redirected into the Blasters’ net by full-back Huidrom Singh.
Gokulam Kerala FC led 3-1 at halftime against a struggling Kerala Blasters side, who had difficulty creating opportunities and maintaining a solid defence.
Malabarians continue dominance with early second-half goal
The Malabarians wasted no time in the second half, scoring a goal in the opening minute just as they had finished the first half. Once again, Sanchez played a crucial role, setting up Abhijith, who delivered an impressive strike from 30 yards out, beating Sachin Suresh in goal.
Despite being taken aback by the scoreline, the Blasters were resolute in their quest to score a goal.
Their efforts paid off thanks to a remarkable display of skill by Mohammed Aimen, who skillfully evaded three opponents before setting up Prabir Das. Das, who made a late run into the box, easily tapped the ball to reduce the deficit to 2-4.
As the game entered its final quarter, the Blasters continued to push forward, and substitute Bidhyasagar Singh found himself in a crucial position with a golden opportunity to reduce the deficit.
However, any disappointment from his missed opportunity was soon forgotten as the Blasters quickly responded by scoring their third goal just minutes later. Guided by Aimen, they swiftly launched a counter-attack that culminated in Aduran Luna finishing the move with ten minutes remaining in regulation time.
The 2023 Durand Cup will be held from August 3 to September 3, 2023, featuring 24 teams and 43 matches.
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