I League: Gokulam Kerala shatters East Bengal’s title hopes

Yusa Katsumi (45+4 minutes) opened the scoring from the penalty spot for the away side, but Kivi Zhimomi (51st) restored parity before an own goal by substitute Salam Ranjan Singh (87th) made matters worse for the Kolkata heavyweight.

Gokulam Kerala's Kivi Zhimomi goal vs East Bengal

Gokulam Kerala's Kivi Zhimomi exults after scoring a goal against East Bengal.   -  K. Ragesh

Winning is a habit. Stunning, too.

After humbling Mohun Bagan just five days ago at Kolkata, Gokulam Kerala FC shocked another giant from the eastern metropolis, East Bengal, by an identical 2-1 margin at the Corporation Stadium on Saturday. It could well be the biggest upset of the I-League this season: the bottom-placed side turning the table on a title aspirant.

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The defeat has dealt a blow to East Bengal, though it has retained the third place in the ten-team league, with 26 points, behind Neroca (31) and Minerva Punjab (29). Gokulam has jumped to the eighth place, with 16 points.

It was a well-deserved victory too for Bino George's boys. They played attacking, enterprising football once again.

Not even the loss of their playmaker and leading scorer Mahmood Al-Ajmi to injury half an hour into the match did not affect their flow. His replacement, Arjun Jayaraj, ensured that.

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The home side had conceded the lead in the dying seconds of the opening half, from the penalty spot, for a charge by Emmanuel Chigozie on East Bengal's Cavin Lobo. From the spot, Katsumi Yusa drove into the roof of the net, past Man-of-the-Match Bilal Khan, to score his sixth goal of the season.

Gokulam, however, came back strongly in the second half to author what was an unforgettable win. Just six minutes after the interval, the I-League newcomer equalised through its tireless striker Kivi Zhimomi, who finished off a fine move involving K. Salman, T.V. Mohammed Irshad and Henry Kisekka, as he slotted the ball past the diving goalkeeper C. K. Ubaid.

Salman played a key role in the winning goal too. He gave an excellent short, through ball to Arjun, who passed it on to the ominously stationed Henry Zhimomi. From the resulting shot, a desperate Salam Ranjan could only put the ball into his own net.

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Both the teams were reduced to 10 men though in the last few minutes, with Irshad and Arnab Mondal collecting red cards.

The result: Gokulam Kerala FC 2 (Kivi Zhimomi 51, Salam Ranjan Singh 88-og) beat East Bengal 1 (Katsumi Yusa 45+5).