I-League: Chennai City defeats Gokulam Kerala in dramatic encounter

Defending champion Chennai City beat Gokulam Kerala 3-2 in a match that saw plenty of action and drama at the Corporation Stadium on Thursday.

B. Sriram celebrates with Roberto Eslava after scoring Chennai City's third and final goal.   -  AIFF Media

Chennai City’s title defence is back on track.

The defending champion beat Gokulam Kerala 3-2 in a match that saw plenty of action and drama at the Corporation Stadium on Thursday.

The hard-earned victory should give a lot of confidence to the Chennai team, for Gokulam is one of the toughest sides in the competition.

The host was reduced to just eight men towards the end of the match; its goalkeeper Vigneshwaran Baskaran was injured, while Haroon Amiri and T.V. Mohammed Irshad were sent off. The game ended with Gokulam’s eight men against Chennai’s 10; the visiting side’s Mashoor Shereef also earned a red card.

Chennai’s first goal came against the run of play. With just a couple of minutes left in the opening half,  Adolfo Araujo received a long ball from B. Sriram and slotted it past the advancing goalkeeper Vigneshwaran Baskaran; it was a goal that stunned the Gokulam defenders, who probably were expecting off-side.

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The very next minute saw Chennai getting another opportunity, but Katsumi Yusa’s attempt, off a splendid pass from Araujo, was thwarted by the Gokulam custodian and the defenders this time.

Nine minutes into the second half, however, Katsumi won the ball from Gokulam just inside the host’s half, broke through the defence with his pace and set up an excellent chance for his teammates near the box. Substitute Pavitro Raju was well-positioned to place the ball into the net after Vigneshwaran failed to put the ball out of danger.

Some 22 minutes later, Sriram made it 3-0, giving the finishing touches to an excellent pass from Syed Suhail Pasha, who had made a fine run from the left. It seemed all over for Gokulam.

Subsitute Shibil Muhammed, however, gave the host a glimmer of a hope when he drove hard into the net following a cross from captain Marcus Joseph. Nine minutes later, the duo came up with an encore, this time off a free-kick by the skipper.

The equaliser, though, never came.

The result: Gokulam 2 (Shibil Muhammed 81 & 90) lost to Chennai City 3 (Adolfo Araujo 44, Pravitto Raju 54, B. Sriram 76).
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