East Bengal beat Gokulam Kerala, end losing streak in I-League
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East Bengal beat Gokulam Kerala, end losing streak in I-League

After six games in I-League, East Bengal moved to nine points and Gokulam Kerala stayed on nine from seven.

football Updated: Dec 08, 2018 21:26 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
East Bengal,Gokulam Kerala,I-League
East Bengal had lost their last three matches after winning their first two. (AIFF)

Exploiting a pocket of space on their left early in the game, East Bengal returned to winning ways after three games to ensure that the biggest match in Indian club football --- the Kolkata derby, scheduled for December 16 --- stays alive if only just.

The ease with which Christian Sabah made it 1-2 turning swifter than central defender Borja Gomez expected him to and meeting a long ball from Daniel Addo showed that not all the cracks have been repaired but that stays a story for another evening. Especially after Lalram Chullova made it 3-1 with an 82nd minute goal.

After six games, East Bengal moved to nine points and Gokulam Kerala stayed on nine from seven.

For most of the first half on Saturday, Gokulam Kerala FC didn’t show up. Brandon Vanlalremdika made them pay with a fifth-minute goal and Joby Justin made it 2-0 by the 15th to give East Bengal the kind of start they haven’t had in this I-League.

Both goals stemmed from moves that used the space on Gokulam Keraka FC’s right left by Sabah and full back Abhishek Das. The first was started by a long ball that was relayed to Vanlalremdika by Enrique Tirado selling a dummy to a cross slung by Chullova. In space, the East Bengal wide left shot home.

Justin’s goal came after Lalrindika Ralte, one of the four changes East Bengal made from the team that lost 0-1 to Minerva Punjab FC earlier in the week, found the striker. Ralte replaced Kamalpreet Singh in central midfield, goalie Rakshit Dagar came in for Ubaid CK, centre-back Salam Ranjan Singh supplanted Costa Rican World Cupper Johnny Acosta and wide right Laldanmawia Ralte was preferred over Yami Longvah.

Gokulam Kerala FC conceded free-kick in dangerous areas and given that Lalrindika Ralte was on the pitch that was always going to be dangerous. From an early Lalrindika Ralte set-piece effort, the ball slithered off Gomez’s legs, from another Tirado’s header was stopped by a Gokulam Kerala player on the line and a third sailed across the goal mouth.

For 20 minutes after Baoringdao Bodo was substituted by VP Suhair, Gokulam Kerala FC put East Bengal’s backline under pressure and even pulled one back. But then Chullova struck and that as they say was that.

First Published: Dec 08, 2018 20:54 IST