Sparks fly when Chennai City plays Gokulam Kerala. Wednesday night was no exception.
In an I-League match that produced some exhilarating end-to-end football, the Kerala club sealed a much needed 1-0 win against the defending champion. The winner was netted by Gokulam’s captain Marcus Joseph in the 79th minute.
The Trinidadian striker will not forget that goal in a hurry. Neither will Gokulam, which could not just avenge the 2-3 defeat suffered at home last month but end a three-match losing streak to the Chennai men.
All those three matches were won by the identical 3-2 margins. This game may not have been a goal feast, but there was no lack of thrills as both sides were determined to attack right through the game.
The stats tell that Chennai enjoyed the possession of 52 percent to Gokulam’s 48 and that the former had 13 shots at the goal to the latter’s 12. There was indeed little that separated the two.
There was, in fact, little to separate even before the match begun; they both were on 14 points from 10 matches. The victory, however, has taken Gokulam to the third spot, with 17 points, behind Mohun Bagan (26) and Punjab FC (17). Chennai has dropped a place down to sixth.
Akbar Nawas’ boys will definitely be ruing the several chances that came their way, especially to Adolfo Miranda. They were let down by poor finishing and were denied on quite a few occasions by an excellent performance under the bar from the Gokulam goalkeeper C.K. Ubaid.
His counterpart was a busy man, too. Nauzet Santana brought off some brilliant saves, including one off a long-ranger from Joseph, 12 minutes into the match.
The Gokulam skipper, however, managed to beat him with 12 minutes remaining. He drove accurately into the net a splendid minus pass from inside the box by Atuheire Kipson, the Ugandan who was making his debut. He proved an inspired substitution; he had come just a minute earlier, in place of Nathaniel Garcia.
Chennai, cheered on by its enthusiastic supporters, tried hard to equalise, but this night was Gokulam’s.
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