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PIX: Real Kashmir sizzle in the snow to go top of I-League

Last updated on: February 06, 2019 20:42 IST

The win propelled the debutants to the top of the table with 32 points, two ahead of Chennai City FC, who have two games in hand.

IMAGE: Striker Gnohere Krizo scored the all-important goal in the 51st minute to give debutants Real Kashmir a 1-0 victory against Gokulam Kerala FC. All Photographs: Real Kashmir FC/Twitter

The fairy tale run of Real Kashmir Football Club in the I-League continued as the club from the Valley defeated Gokulam Kerala FC by a solitary goal to jump to top of the I-League, in Srinagar, on Wednesday.

 

The match between the 'Snow Leopards' and Gokulam was played at the TRC Ground in chilling weather conditions amid a mix of rain and snowfall with none of the teams willing to yield the ground.

Ivorian striker Gnohere Krizo scored the all-important goal in the 51st minute to hand debutants Real Kashmir full three points from the match.



The win propelled the Jammu and Kashmir side to the top of the table with 32 points, dislodging Chennai City FC (30 points) who, however, have two games in hand over Real Kashmir.

Chennai City will take on Indian Arrows on Friday while Real Kashmir will meet East Bengal at home on Sunday. Each team will play 20 matches in the league.

It started snowing before the match and heavy rains lashed the ground later on. The two sides played a goal-less first half as controlling the ball became difficult for the players of both the teams due to waterlogging in many patches of the Synthetic Astro Turf pitch.

Real Kashmir should have taken the lead in the first half but Krizo missed several easy chances to put his side ahead.



Mason Robertson, son of head coach David, who was playing behind Krizo in a 4-4-1-1 formation, also missed a couple of chances to score.

However, it was Krizo who broke the deadlock after the break, pouncing on a rebound in front of the Gokulam goal in the 51st minute.

Local boy Farhan Ganiae saw his fierce shot from the top of the box stopped by Gokulam custodian Arnab Das but Krizo was well placed to tap in the rebound.

After taking the lead, Real Kashmir players relaxed a bit, allowing a window of opportunity for the team from Kerala to push for an equaliser.

While Kerala striker Marcus Joseph was wayward in most of his attempts at the goal, Real Kashmir goalkeeper Bilal Khan was in top form to deny the visiting team. Real Kashmir had the chance to double their lead in the 80th minute but Abednego Tetteh, who came on for Krizo in the 73rd minute, shot wide of Das' right post from 15 yards.



This was the ninth clean sheet for the Real Kashmir, which has the meanest defence in the I-League this year, having conceded only eight goals in 16 games so far.

Real Kashmir coach Robertson said topping the table is a great motivation for his team but they have to focus on the remaining games of this campaign.

"The boys showed some real character under the difficult conditions and I am really happy with the results. Topping the table is a great motivation for us, but we have to focus on the coming matches," he said.

Sandeep Chattoo and Shamim Meraj, co-founders of the club, believe the win against Gokulam has kept their team in the title hunt in their debut season.

"We are thrilled to see such commitment and passion showcased by the players. It is a crucial juncture in the league and winning this match has kept us well ahead in the hunt for the title. Gokulam Kerala played well in these tough conditions but this was not their day and the Snow Leopards hunted them down," they said.

ISL: Bengaluru fight back from two goals down to salvage a 2-2 draw against Kerala

IMAGE: Sunil Chhetri in action. Photograph: ISL Media

Bengaluru FC staged a superb fightback after being two-goal down to salvage a 2-2 draw against Kerala Blasters FC in an action-packed Indian Super League clash on Wednesday.

Slavisa Stojanovic scored a 16th-minute penalty before a fabulous strike from Courage Pekuson handed the visitors a two-goal lead at the break.

But just as it seemed that Kerala Blasters may win their first match against Bengaluru FC, a header from Udanta Singh (69th) and another from Sunil Chhetri (85th) helped the Blues grab a point.

The result sees Bengaluru extend their lead atop the ISL table to four points, while Kerala Blasters remain winless in 14 matches and are rooted to the ninth spot.

Kerala threatened from the start and a rampaging run by Mohammad Rakip down the right flank in the 14th minute provided the breakthrough.

The young full-back's cross from the right hit Kean Lewis' hand and Stojanovic stepped up to convert the resultant penalty-kick to put his team in the lead.

Chances were few and far between for Bengaluru. In the 35th minute, Dimas Delgado released Edmund Lalrindika into the box with a perfectly-weighted through-ball but Sandesh Jhingan quickly came across to sweep the ball off the striker's feet. 

Kerala's persistence in attack was rewarded in the 40th minute as Sahal Abdul Samad split the Bengaluru backline with an excellent pass for Seiminlen Doungel.

The forward was denied space to shoot but he laid the ball off for an onrushing Courage Pekuson who belted an outstanding strike from outside the box into the top corner of the net.

The hosts then upped the ante by playing more balls into the box. Rahul Bheke and Udanta Singh played excellent crosses from the right, both aimed at Chhetri, but the skipper sent his header off target on both instances.

Chhetri went close again a few minutes later when he met Dimas Delgado's cross from the right with a powerful first-time effort.

Kerala goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh made a good save to deny the India international and keep Kerala's two-goal lead intact.

Bengaluru finally managed to carve the Kerala defence open in the 69th minute. Chhetri headed Erik Paartalu's lofted ball back across the box into the path of Udanta Singh who headed home, leaving the defenders rooted to the spot.

The hosts equalised with five minutes left on the clock. Udanta received Harmanjot Khabra's backheel and crossed into the box from the right flank. Chhetri got to the end of it, beating Mohammad Rakip in the air to a powerful header into the net.

Bengaluru will take heart from a superb second-half comeback, while Kerala Blasters were left to ponder what could have been.

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