Hello and welcome to Sportstar's live blog of the Hero I-League 2018-19 between Gokulam Kerala and East Bengal played at Kozhikode's EMS Stadium.
FULL TIME East Bengal comes from behind to defeat Gokulam Kerala 2-1 in Kozhikode but it isn't enough to secure a maiden I-League title. Chennai City has defeated Minerva Punjab 3-1 and the title goes South this season. READ THE MATCH REPORT HERE
UPDATE: Chennai City has scored a third goal against Minerva Punjab. Gaurav Bora with his second of the game.
90' + 3' East Bengal in no hurry to get the game going. The players keep possession and are content with not going for another goal. Gokula Kerala players are also not in a hurry to get the ball. They put up a good fight and played an important role in taking this title race to the wire.
90' Six minutes have been added at the end of the second half.
FIGHT! Joseph gets past his marker but, in an attempt to get a shot away, he catches Rakshit Dagar and the players on both side are furious. Joseph gets a yellow card. A harsh call as he was merely trying to go for the ball.
85' GOAL! LALDANMAWIA RALTE with the goal! Jaime Santos with the assist. Good cross under pressure and Ralte did well to get the goal on the second attempt.
GOKULAM KERALA SUBSTITUTION: Suhair replaces Ejiogu Emmanuel.
79' GOAL! Penalty to East Bengal and Jaime Santos SCORES! Right into the corner. Arnab Das guessed right but there was enough power on the shot to evade his gloves.
EAST BENGAL SUBSTITUTIONS: Dovale and Gagandeep replaced Santos and Brandon.
76' It is all about clearing the ball at every opportunity for Gokulam Kerala, and you can't blame them for doing it.
73' Esqueda steals the ball near the left corner flag but East Bengal can not take advantage again. Too many chances have gone begging today.
70' Esqueda scuffs his shot and Marcus Joseph, of all people, is there to clear the ball. Teamwork from the Kozhikode side.
UPDATE: Chennai City has taken the lead in Coimbatore! Gurav Bora with the goal. We have a blog running for that match too, by the way.
69' GOAL! JOSEPH SCORES! Fantastic play at the edge of the box from the Gokulam Kerala attackers. Marcus Joseph is released into the box and his left foot strike nestles into the bottom corner of the net!
67' Didika finds Esqueda with a fantastic chip over the Gokula Kerala defence. The Mexican was hesitant to bring the ball under control, for some reason, and that gives Rakshit Das Sharma to run out and shield the ball out of play.
66' Esqueda chips one to Laldanmawia but the flag is up for offside.
Gokulam Kerala substitution: Bijesh replaces Lalmuankima.
63' A cross somehow falls to Laldanmawia Ralte and, off balance, he gets a shot away and it goes well wide. Another good chance goes begging but East Bengal has upped its pace in the second half, finally.
61'CHANCE! OFF THE POST! Didika was inches away from giving East Bengal the lead! Lovely left foot shot that is just wide.
57' Esqueda's volley is well blocked by Vorben Fabien. Crucial block that.
55' Joseph, not for the first time, gets on the end of a good pass but shoots well wide.
UPDATE: Chennai City has won a penalty! Pedro Manzi scores and that means the title is going to Coimbatore as it stands. We have a blog running for that match too. Follow that game there to see how the title race is shaping up as the clock ticks away. IF East Bengal scores, the title is going to Calcutta. The question is, can it find the elusive goal?
53' It is getting scrappy in the middle of the pitch now. Misplaced passes and overhit crosses have replaced the composed play in the first half.
51' Kassim Aidara with a fantastic run down the right side and is fouled right outside the box. Manotosh Chakladhar picks up a yellow card for that tackle and East Bengal has a freekick in a good position. Didika takes the setpiece but he curls it well over the bar.
49' Esqueda runs onto a through ball and shoots just wide. He had to take a shot quickly as Rakshit Dagar had quickly come off the line. The linesman puts his flag up after the miss. Curiously slow from the official for the offside call.
48' East Bengal needs a bright start in this half but Gokulam Kerala with a patient approach to its play. Quick passes to keep possession and control the pace of the game.
46' The second half starts with Gokula Kerala keeping the ball and recycling possession.
HALF TIME The half ends goalless but not for the lack of trying. East Bengal's 15 year wait for a I-League title continues but everything is lined up for the Red and Gold Brigade. Chennai City is training to Minerva Punjab in Coimbatore and a win in Kozhikode will seal things for the Calcutta giant. Can they get a goal in the second half? We shall find out in fifteen minutes.
45' + 1' Jaime Santos tries to find Chullova on the right but the pass had too much pace on it.
45' One minute of added time at the end of the first half.
STAT: East Bengal has had 4 shots in the game so far while Gokulam Kerala has had 8.
44' And at the other end, Gokulam Kerala wins a corner. It comes to nothing but this is proper end-to-end stuff. Both sets of players must be eager to catch their breaths at the break.
42' Jaime Santos get tot he end of a cross but his shot is deflected for another corner. This time, Acosta's shot is deflected out for a third corner on the trot! This time the cross is disappointing and Rakshit Dagar grabs it with ease.
40'SAVE! Imran Khan chips a ball over East Bengal's defence. It falls perfectly to Joseph who controls it and tries to get around Arnab Das Sharma but the goalkeeper wasn't having any of it. He makes a spiderman-eqsue jab at the ball and the danger is cleared.
40' Clumsy defending from Didika. Gives away a freekick, which Joseph takes and skies.
38' Good through ball from Jaime Santos which allows Brandon to run past his marker but he blindly takes a cross with no East Bengal anywhere close to the box, let alone inside. Easy take for Rakshit Dagar.
35' A cynical foul stops Laldanmwaia Ralte in his tracks. No card for that tackle, surprisingly.
34' Sloppiness creeping int East Bengal's play. Passing going astray or intercepted regularly. As I type this, Joseph steals the ball from Acosta a little beyond the halfway line.
30' Not for the first time today Chullova makes a wonderful run down the right, gets into the box and cuts back. And, not for the first time today, there is no one to get to the end of his cutback.
29' Sloppy play from East Bengal. Joseph gets behind its defence but Acosta barely manages to get his foot on the ball. Lack of concentration from a thrown-in and East Bengal almost fell behind.
28' Most players here are finding it difficult to get their crosses right. It's not for the lack of technique. Is that the ground and the weather that's causing it or is it merely the pressure of the occasion?
Chennai City is trailing Minerva Punjab and we have a blog running for that match too. Follow that game there to see how the title race is shaping up as the clock ticks away.
24' End-to-end stuff. We are midway through the first half and the pace has only increased (somehow!) since kickoff. Was expecting the first goal to come from either defence tiring down but looks like someone has to pull out something special to make the breakthrough.
22' And now at the other end Joseph evades his marker and gets a shot away. Arnab makes a save but concedes a corner, which comes to nothing.
22' At the other end, Laldanmawia Ralte runs past his marker into the box but the angle is too wide. He gets a shot away but that goes wide.
21' Joseph unleashes a left drive from 40 yards out and that stings Arnab's gloves. He saves it but that was a thunderbolt from Joseph.
19'CHANCE! Arnab Das does well to punch the ball clear. It would've been an own goal to Esqueda had he not punched it clear.
18' Emmanuel takes a shot from just outside the box and it deflects out for Gokulam Kerala's first corner of the game.
16' Jaime Santos is in the mood today. He is playing at a different level and if East Bengal scores, there's a good chance it will be through him. Gokulam Kerala defenders have somehow kept him silent but every time he is robbed off the ball he seems to be motivated to better next time.
15' Arjun Jayaraj with a beautiful ball down the left but East Bengal defenders are super alert to every threat today. Maybe the players will up the ante if they know what's happening in Coimbatore?
UPDATE: Minerva Punjab has taken the lead in Coimbatore but Chennai City is known for coming back from time and again. We have a blog running for that match too and you can follow that game there.
12' Emamnuel tries to wiggle his way past three East Bengal defenders but he was asking for too much there. He is robbed of the ball with ease.
11' To East Bengal's credit, Marcus has been kept silent so far. I don't think he's had a touch of the ball, actually.
9' With the pace of the game currently, pockets of space are opening up all over the pitch. It's going to a matter of time and the right pass for the opening goal of the game.
6' Lalrindika Ralte with a delicious cross that evades all the Gokula Kerala defenders AND the East Bengal lads. A small touch on that would have turned the ball in. So so close!
4' A long ball is cleared with ease by East Bengal. Gokulam Kerala gets the ball again but Johnny Acosta clears well.
UPDATE: Minerva Punjab has scored against Chennai City! We have a blog running for that match too and you can follow that game there.
2' The corner is cleared but East Bengal gets back possession. Relentless pressure in the opening minutes from the visiting team.
1' A tackle in the box from Irshad gives East Bengal it first corner in the first minute of the game.
1' Gokulam Kerala gets the final match of the season underway!
◙ The last time East Bengal lifted the league title, the I-League wasn't in existence. That's how long its fans have waited for glory. Can all things lineup for the Red and Gold brigade?
◙ We have poll up on our Twitter account. Go there and get voting guys. And let us know your thoughts there.
◙ LINE UPS!
◙ East Bengal's star striker Jobby Justin will miss this evening's game owing to a six-match suspension. How costly will his miss prove to be? READ:- How costly will Justin, Nestor's absence be for title-chasing Chennai City, East Bengal?
◙ Our reporter Stan Ryan is covering the game live on Kozhikode. Here's his preview:
Confident East Bengal prepped for title decider
Are you under pressure? You are very close to your first I-League title, will you sleep peacefully tonight? Will you be keen to know mid-match about what is happening in Coimbatore between Chennai City FC and Minerva Punjab?
A lot of questions about the various possibilities that could happen on Saturday, the I-League’s deciding day, were thrown at East Bengal coach Alejandro Menendez on the eve of his team’s crucial game against Gokulam Kerala FC at the EMS Corporation Stadium here on Friday evening.
RELATED| Chennai City a win away from history
But the Spaniard, a former Real Madrid youth coach, tried to cut down the noise as much as possible.
“We are trying to stay quiet, enjoying the moment and looking at our fans cheering for us,” said Alejandro. “We have full confidence in our team, we are ready to go for a win.”
A win on Saturday alone may not be enough for the Red-and-Gold brigade to lay its hands on the I-League trophy for the first time. For East Bengal, with 39 points, is just a point behind league leader Chennai City and will want the latter to either lose or draw against defending champion Minerva in Coimbatore.
“The best thing for us is to try to focus on our match and then see what happens,” said Alejandro.
With its star striker, Mexican Enrique Esqueda, in fine touch now on his comeback after a rib injury, East Bengal does not look at Gokulam Kerala FC, a side which it beat 3-1 earlier, as a big threat. However, it will be without forward Jobby Justin, who was slapped with a six-match suspension for an ugly spat with an Aizawl FC defender earlier.
Meanwhile, Gokulam coach Gift Raikhan said though his team – which is near the bottom of the table with 17 points – does not have anything to lose, it will fight.
“I don’t have anything to gain, I have nothing to lose but I want to win. We are under no pressure, so our players will be playing with a free mind. We have nothing to lose but they will prove that they are equal to East Bengal,” he said.
With that being the situation, the visitor opted for a 1pm training session, under a burning sun, so that the players could go to bed early and rest well for their big day.
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