I-League 2021: Gokulam Kerala, Real Kashmir play out goalless draw; Aizawl beat Neroca FC – Sports News , Firstpost

I-League 2021: Gokulam Kerala, Real Kashmir play out goalless draw; Aizawl beat Neroca FC

With the draw, Gokulam Kerala FC find themselves with seven points after five matches while Real Kashmir are one behind with six points after four games, having missed out on a chance to go second in the table.

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Kalyani: Real Kashmir FC and Gokulam Kerala showed the intent but could not make the most of their opportunities, settling for a goalless draw in their I-League fixture on Saturday.

With the draw, Gokulam Kerala FC find themselves with seven points after five matches while Real Kashmir are one behind with six points after four games, having missed out on a chance to go second in the table.

Playing like a team with a point to prove, Gokulam Kerala FC brought the game to Real Kashmir FC in the opening minutes of the match.

Vincenzo Annese’s men looked hungry to take the lead and committed bodies in attack. Although they were repelled by Real Kashmir’s compact defence led by Mason Robertson, the attacking momentum gave them confidence as the match progressed.

Much against the run of play, however, in the 11th minute, Sena Ralte released a delicious cross for Lukman Adefemi, who was waiting to pounce inside the box. The cross earned minimal contact with the Nigerian’s boot as it flashed in front of goal and went back into play across to the other flank.

In the 20th minute, Mayakannan’s mistimed shot fell surprisingly to Philip Adjah inside the box. Despite Adjah being onside, the Ghanaian forward failed to find the net with only the opposition goalkeeper to beat.

With Gokulam Kerala FC dominating possession and creating more chances, the Snow Leopards waited for their opportunities, sitting back and playing on the counter.

Real Kashmir striker Lukman Adefemi was mostly isolated up top, and whenever he was found by the midfield, the Malabarians’ defence swarmed to rob the ball off him.

In the 38th minute, a quick turn by Adefemi meant that he could go all the way onto goal. As the lanky forward entered the box with only the goalkeeper to beat, he shot wide of goal as Gokulam survived a scare.

Real Kashmir were given a golden opportunity to go ahead nine minutes into the second half when Lukman Adefemi was found inside the box with a long ball. As the forward tried to open his body and release a curling shot, the Gokulam defence line swarmed him and ultimately blocked his effort.

Three minutes later, it was Gokulam’s chance to attack. Emil Benny ran onto the right flank and released a curling cross for Philip Adjah inside the box. However, the Real Kashmir goalkeeper read the play and latched onto the cross.

It seemed like neither team could find the decisive pass in the final third. With both teams defending compactly and with bodies behind the ball, chances became rare.

Although Gokulam had more possession than Real Kashmir, the Malabarians could not create any clear goal-scoring opportunities.

Aizawl edge past Neroca FC

Aizawl FC beat Neroca FC 2-1 in their fifth-round I-League fixture at the Mohun Bagan Ground.

MC Malsawmzuala scored the winner in the 56th minute after Judah Emmanuel Garcia had cancelled PC Laldinpuia’s first-half header.

With the victory, the Mizo team now moves up the table with seven points and is placed four points behind leaders Churchill Brothers with one game in hand.

Neroca, who came into the match after a 4-1 defeat against Gokulam Kerala, started with attacking intent and, within three minutes, had two chances to score.

Khanngam Horam latched on a forward pass from Jude Garcia in the second minute but his shot was blocked and sent for a corner. Horam was again in the thick of things but without success.

Aizawl settled in after the early scare and threatened the Neroca goal through a number of corners. They, however, only tested the keeper in the 15th minute, when C Laldinpuia reached Malsawmtluanga’s corner but the defender’s header was straight at the keeper Bishorjit Singh.

Five minutes later, Bishorjit was forced to make another save to keep the scores equal as Ramhlunchhunga chested a cross down to his feet and took a shot. The Neroca custodian had to come off his line quickly and deny him the opener.

In the 28th minute, Aizawl were again denied the opening goal as Alfred Jaryan’s header was cleared off the goal line.

Aizawl kept threatening and were rewarded for their efforts in the 37th minute. An inswinging cross delivered by Malsawmtluanga was met by Laldinpuia, who sent his header past a stranded Bishorjit Singh in the Neroca goal.

The former champions almost doubled their lead in the 40th minute through Jaryan, but Bishorjit had no trouble in dealing with the shot, ensuring that his team went into half time with a single goal deficit.

Neroca returned with vigour after the break and levelled the score through Judah Emmanuel Garcia just before the 50th-minute mark.

Songpu Singsit turned past his man in the centre of the park and found Garcia in space. The Trinidad and Tobago striker took a couple of touches before releasing a low powerful shot from outside the area, which zoomed past Lalmuansanga in goal.

With the scores equal, both teams started to attack with intent and this opened up the game.

Nathaniel Jude Garcia almost gave the Manipuri team the lead in the 55th minute, but his long-range freekick struck the top of the crossbar.

The third goal of the game came in the 56th minute and it was the former I-League champions who grabbed the lead for the second time.

A cross from the right flank caused panic inside the Neroca box and as the goalkeeper failed to deal with the long ball, MC Zuala headed the loose ball into an empty net to make it 2-1 in favour of Aizawl.

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