Durand Cup: Marcus brace guides Gokulam Kerala to first title

Gokulam Kerala FC beat Mohun Bagan 2-1 in the final as captain Marcus Joseph scored a goal in each half to lead his side to Durand Cup glory in its debut season.

Gokulam Kerala FC forward Marcus Joseph won the 2019 Durand Cup's golden ball & golden boot awards, while the team's goalkeeper CK Ubaid bagged the golden glove at the tournament.   -  Twitter (@ILeagueOfficial)

Captain Marcus Joseph’s brilliant brace propelled Gokulam Kerala FC to register a thrilling 2-1 win over Mohun Bagan and lift its maiden Durand Cup title at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Saturday.

In a high voltage final, GKFC thwarted a late challenge from Bagan to be the second club from Kerala to win the crown. The I.M. Vijayan-led FC Kochin was the first team to claim the title in 1997.

GKFC gave a good account of its organized approach to gain upper hand in the opening half.

The touring side exhibited solidity at the back, under the command of Trinidadian Andre Ettienne, and some well-crafted moves, ably led by Joseph, upfront.

Sebastian Thangmuansang had a golden chance in the sixth minute, but his left-footer was too weak to beat Bagan custodian Debjit Majumder.

As it Happened | Durand Cup Final: Mohun Bagan vs Gokulam Kerala FC

Amid tough tackles, Bagan managed some free-kicks and corners but hardly came close to scoring a goal.

Francis Morante’s 17th minute header went wide, while Joseba Beitia’s 22nd minute long-ranger sailed over the bar.

GKFC attacked from the left wing efficiently. The agile Malemnganba Meitei put in some aerial balls to threaten the Bagan citadel.

It came close to grabbing the lead twice. Meitei’s fine cross for Henry Kisekka was neutralized by Debjit in the 19th minute and Joseph’s 26th minute cross from the left again did not find a taker owing to confusion between Mohammed Rashid and Kisekka.

GKFC gained the lead through a penalty at the stroke of half-time. In a classic counter-attack, Joseph took forward a clearance and passed it on to Kisekka. The Ugandan was brought down by Debjit and Joseph converted the penalty.

Soon after GKFC survived a spirited attack from Suhair V.P., Joseph doubled the lead. Huidrom Nachoa Singh banked on Ashutosh Mehta’s lapse to feed Joseph and the Kerala captain ran solo for 25 yards before beating a helpless Debjit in the 51st minute.

Bagan, nevertheless, maintained pressure and reduced the margin in the 64th minute when Chamorro Salva headed in Beitia’s free-kick. GKFC keeper Ubaid fumbled and saw the ball roll into the net.

The final 15 minutes witnessed madness of sorts – with Bagan missing plenty of chances, both teams getting engaged in a heated exchange and each getting a red card – before GKFC stayed unbeaten to lay its hands on the coveted trophy.

THE RESULT:

FINAL: Gokulam Kerala FC 2 (Joseph 45+1, 51) beat Mohun Bagan 1 (Salva Chamorro 64).

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