Gokulam Kerala FC made its recent I-League triumph count in a big way as it comprehensively outplayed Indian Super League giant ATK Mohun Bagan 4-2 in the opening fixture of AFC Cup’s group D league, at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Wednesday.
All six goals came in the second half with Slovenian play-maker Luka Majcen finding the net twice for Gokulam while Rishad Pazhaya and substitute Jithin M.S. accounted for a goal each.
ATK Mohun Bagan reduced the margin through Pritam Kotal and Liston Colaco, who converted two set-piece opportunities coming their way.
The big win gave Gokulam Kerala the confidence to dream about more good results in its future outings in the group. The I-League champion showed the right discipline and proper planning to first absorb the ATKMB attacks in the first half before successfully launching its offensives after the break.
ATKMB could well have wrapped up the match in the first half itself but for attackers like Roy Krishna and Joni Kauko missing the mark from close on multiple occasions. ATKMB suffered a setback in the 36th minute when its Spanish centre-back Tiri was stretchered off following suffering a suspected ACL injury.
Gokulam Kerala switched gears after the break and started probing deeper in the ATKMB defence. With Tiri out of action, ATKMB’s defence crumbled. Luka secured the lead in the 50th minute off an assist from Tahir Zaman.
Kotal volleyed home a corner to restore parity for ATKMB in the 53rd but Gokulam replied with more intensity to make it 3-1 by the 65th minute through Rishad and Luka.
Liston Colaco scored directly from a free-kick to make it 3-2 in the 80th minute but Gokulam took the match away when substitute Jithin made it 4-2 in the 89th minute.
The result: Gokulam Kerala FC 4 (Luka 50, 65, Rishad 57, Jithin 89) bt ATK Mohun Bagan 2 (Pritam 53, Liston 80).