Defending champions Gokulam Kerala continued their winning run in the I-League as they beat Aizawl FC 1-0 in a second round match at the Rajiv Gandhi stadium here on Friday.
Thahir Zaman’s perfect header three minutes from the final whistle proved enough for the Malabarians to return with three points and stay at the top of the table with six points from two matches.
The match started with Gokulam Kerala making attacks through the wings, but soon the home side grew in confidence and the tie turned into a midfield tussle.
As the first half progressed, Gokulam’s Cameroonian striker Auguste Somlaga was involved in some good moves but he was suitably dealt by the Aizawl’s defensive duo of Emmanuel Makinde and Akito Saito.
After some time, the home side also pressed high and initiated a few moves. Their best attempt came two minutes from half time when Henry Kisseka launched a shot from the left flank but his effort just went wide.
The game restarted with Aizawl FC showing a lot of urgency. They came close to scoring in the 53rd minute but R Ramdinthara couldn’t keep his shot in control. A minute later, Aizawl got a corner kick which resulted in a powerful header from Nigerian Makinde. His header skimmed over the post.
The vociferous fans kept motivating the home team as they continued to press with their quick passing game.
The visitors, on the other hand, remained organised throughout and absorbed all the pressure from Aizawl, while making regular moves into the rival area.
Their efforts proved successful as they scored the match-winner in the 87th minute. An inch-perfect cross from the right by Arjun Jayaraj was neatly finished by substitute Thahir Zaman.
In another match played in Imphal, NEROCA FC picked up their first win of the season as they defeated Sudeva Delhi FC by 1-0 margin at the Khuman Lampak Stadium.
Jourdain Fletcher’s long-range shot in the 62nd minute proved to be the difference between the two teams. Sudeva suffered their second loss on the trot.
The first half of the match was a virtual see-saw of scoring chances, with both teams displaying attacking football and both goalkeepers being called into action on multiple occasions.
In the fourth minute, Sardor Jakhonov’s shot was deflected and fell awkwardly in the penalty area, with Sudeva goalkeeper Sachin Jha having to make an alert collection. Four minutes later, on the other end, Felix Chidi cut in from the left and fired a shot that was saved well by Soram Poirei.
Sudeva’s Seilenthang Lotjem attempted an acrobatic volley in the 26th minute from a cross but his shot went narrowly wide.
Ten minutes later, he found himself in space outside the penalty area and attempted a chipped shot but failed to beat goalkeeper Poirei.
The hosts created the first big chance of the second half through Fletcher, whose powerful effort from long range in the 51st minute was tipped around the post by Jha.
However, he was left stranded in the 62nd minute as Fletcher collected a pass from Nonganba Singh and caressed the ball into the bottom corner of the net from outside the penalty area.