Gokulam Kerala registered their third consecutive victory in the Hero I-League 2023 when they routed Aizawl FC 3-0 at the EMS Stadium in Kozhikode on Saturday, February 25, 2023.
Rahul Raju opened the scoring in the first half, while Sergio Mendiguchia Iglesias and substitute Jijo Joseph added a goal each in the second half. This was Aizawl FC’s fourth straight defeat in the league. To add further to their already mounting problems, Aizawl substitute KC Larchhuakmawia was shown the red card in the dying minutes of the game, thus reducing the People’s Club to 10 men.
The first half was fairly quiet in terms of goalmouth actions, though the hosts dominated the proceedings. Farshad Noor was all over the pitch and the midfielder combined well with the striker Sergio Mendiguchia Iglesias to constantly trouble the Aizawl defence. In the 12th minute, Noor was found by the Spaniard outside the box, but the Afghan’s attempt was just wide. Three minutes later, the 28-year-old once again came close to scoring, but his shot from inside the box following a free kick was saved by Aizawl custodian Lalmuansanga.
As the wave of attacks continued from Gokulam forwards, the Malabarians finally broke the deadlock in the 35th minute. Noufal PN made a run on the right and entered the box before sending a cross to the far post. Noufal’s cross was met by Rahul Raju, who was inside the box unmarked and sent his shot into the back of the net.
The story remained the same in the second period. Noufal remained a constant threat on the wings and caused problems for the People’s Club with his fast-paced runs. The forward was again in the thick of things and this time he found Sergio Mendiguchia with his cross from the right. The Spanish fired his shot past Lalmuansanga.
In the final ten minutes of the game, Aizawl started to have better exchanges. In the 84th minute, Kisekka saw his shot from the edge of the penalty area blocked by a sliding challenge from Rahul Raju, while substitute Sebastian Veron had a golden opportunity to score but couldn’t keep his shot on target from a freekick near the penalty area.
Just when Aizawl FC looked close to getting one back, Gokulam’s Jijo Joseph put the game beyond the visitors. The substitute was found by Jobby Justin before placing his volley into the bottom corner of the net. Substitute Thahir Zaman almost added a fourth in injury time. However, his powerful strike hit the crossbar. In the final minute of the game, the Aizawl substitute, who was on the pitch just for a few minutes, was shown a red card.
Following the win, Gokulam Kerala stand third on the table with 33 points, seven below the current leaders Sreenidi Deccan, while Aizawl remain in the bottom half of the table with 23 points.
AIFF Media Release