CALICUT: Goals from Yugo Kobayashi and Andrei Ionescu saw Aizawl FC defeat Gokulam Kerala FC 2-0 in an I-League 2017/18 clash, played at the EMS Corporation Stadium in Calicut.
The result sees Aizawl FC, who are on 10 poinst from 5 matches, move up to fifth place on the league table, while Gokulam remain second from the bottom with 4 points from 6 matches.
The hosts prefer to try to snuff Aizawl FC out. With the Bino George-coached side still far from fluent, and with their absentee list, against a full strength Aizawl FC, that was an unlikely prospect on Sunday afternoon.
The result was a quite open, fairly end-to-end game. Tellingly though, whenever Gokulam tried to up the ante Aizawl came back with a bigger response.
The teams traded attacks throughout the opening 15 minutes, with Gokulam needing defenders Emmanuel Chigozie and Dainel Addo to be at their best to deny a lively Leonce Dodoz, while Laldampuia shot just off target from a free kick at the other end.
As the half wore on, the Aizawl FC began to assume a greater control of the game and created some fine scoring chances. The first arrived in the 19th minute when Laldinliana flicked on a throw-in to find Yugo Kobayashi, but the Japanese shot over the crossbar.
Aizawl FC, thereafter, tried their best to get the breakthrough, but found it increasingly difficult as Gokulam remained resolute in defense.
However, Gokulam did succumbed to pressure and conceded when Daniel Addo tried to clear Kobayashi’s goal-bound effort from Lalram Hmunmawia’s cross but ended up putting the ball into his own net in the 45th minute. Though, initially it looked like an own goal but later it was awarded to Kobayashi.
Gokulam looked a better team after restart, and they missed a great chance to level the game within the first few minutes when Usman Ashik headed over from a corner kick.
On the other hand, Aizawl FC doubled their lead seven minutes into the second half, with Andrei Ionescu providing a beautiful finish from Lalmuankima’s pass.
Gokulam reacted by introducing strikers Jimshad U and Francis Idriss, as they proceeded to dominate the remainder of the game.
However, they were unable to find a way past Aizawl FC keeper Avilash Paul, who made several excellent saves.
Meanwhile, Aizawl FC could have even added to the scoreline through Dodoz, who found himself one-on-one with Gokulam custodian Nikhil Bernard, but his chipped finish drifted just wide of the post.