I-League 2017-18: Rafique's screamer over 10 man Gokulam Kerala sends East Bengal top of table

IT WAS NOT the start that Gokulam Kerala as they had to replace Khaled after he suffered an injury within the first 9 minutes. Francis the man to replace Khaled.

In the 12th minute, a corner taken by East Bengal saw Bilal coming near the edge of the box and punch it away. Rafique saw the goal empty and with an overhead kick aimed on to the goal. Bilal rushed back to his line and punched behind for a corner.

Franics Ambane the substitute was behind the free kick which was won just outside the box. The left footed shot was good enough to beat the wall and the keeper not good enough to enter the goal. It struck the crossbar and rebounded onto a defender who cleared it.  Eduardo threw himself in front of Kamo as he was about to pull the trigger. Yusa’s at his best, tricked defenders on the byline and entered near the 6 yard box but took too long to pick a pass and was tackled to take the ball away from him. The deadlock was broken just before the half time. Rafique was waiting outside the box and he chested down a high ball to get it in his control and unleashed a venomous shot which Bilal could not keep out. East Bengal went into the break with one goal lead.

There was more bad news for Gokulam as Bayi Kamo had to be subbed off shortly after the kick-off of the second half. Irshad was brought on to replace Kamo. He had a chance to get the equaliser when he was picked behind the defence in space and he headed the ball goalwards under no pressure but could not get enough power and direction behind it.

Gokulam suffered a big blow as they were a man down with Mirza getting his marching orders. Mirza wildly swung his leg onto Katsumi’s knee. Charles for East Bengal was in a one versus one chance in front of goal but he could only hit it on the keeper. Plaza showed what he was capable when he burst into speed along the right an entered the box and shot on the goal with much power but only to be denied with a brilliant save from Bilal.

With less than 10 minutes remaining, Gokulam did manage to create a chance when a good run down the left flank had three team mates waiting in the middle but the cross but not go past Baretto. Eduardo took a free kick with power but could not keep it on target.

With that East Bengal earned the victory over Gokulam Kerala FC to top the points table.

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