Two goals conceded within a space of seven minutes, on either side of the interval, ensured Gokulam Kerala FC would have to wait a little longer for its maiden home win in the I-League.
The debutant was beaten 0-2 by the reigning champion Aizawl FC at the Corporation Stadium on Sunday. It was a match clearly dominated by the Mizoram team, which didn’t look that perturbed by the hot, humid conditions.
Both the sides started cautiously, but Aizawl enjoyed the possession more and looked better organised, too. It had a chance to go ahead in the seventh minute, but Leonce Dodoz’s cross was slightly off target.
Kobayashi's deft flick
Just two minutes later, at the other end of the field, Gokulam created anxious moments for Aizawl, with a well-measured free-kick by Usman Ashik. Mohammed Rashid, however, just could not get his head in the path of the ball in time.
That, though, was one of the few occasions when the host really threatened to score. The visiting side, on the other hand, showed better imagination in its attacks.
Off one such move, in the 45th minute, Lalram Hmunmwia, after beating Arif Shaikh on the left flank, gave a smart cross to Yugo Kobayashi, whose deft flick moved the net from close in.
There was a deflection by Gokulam defender Daniel Addo, but the goal was rightly awarded to the Japanese striker.
Gokulam pays for sloppy defence
After the break, Gokulam pressed hard for the equaliser but had to pay the price for sloppy defence. On a counter-attack, Aizawl’s crafty midfielder H. Lalmuankima, after winning the ball from his own half, made a fine solo run and gave an excellent through ball to Romanian midfielder Andrei Ionescu, who went past a couple of defenders before coming up with a neatly placed right-footer. That was in the 52nd minute.
Though there was still time enough for the home players to make a match of it, they couldn’t and slumped to their fourth defeat in six games. For the visitor, it was its third win in five matches.