I-League 2023-24: Gokulam Kerala comfortably pass NEROCA challenge

Khel NowKhel Now
November 5 2023
I-League 2023-24: GKFC vs NEROCA
(Courtesy : I-League)

GKFC captain Alejandro Sanchez Lopez scored a brace

Gokulam Kerala FC seized a commanding 4-1 triumph to pile on NEROCA FC’s misery at the EMS Stadium in Kozhikode on Sunday, November 5, 2023. It was Gokulam Kerala’s first win of the 2023-24 I-League season while NEROCA stumbled to their second successive defeat after conceding four goals yet again. For Gokulam Kerala, captain Alejandro Sanchez Lopez hit a brace while Nili Perdomo and Justine Ojoka Emmanuel were also on target. David Simbo scored the consolation goal for NEROCA FC.

The Malabarians’ onslaught began in the early exchanges when a slip from a NEROCA defender was seized upon by PN Noufal, who narrowly missed the target. The early scare served as a harbinger for NEROCA, who struggled to find their footing as Gokulam Kerala began to dictate the pace of the match.

Gokulam Kerala tried to thread together their moves by playing intelligent passes in the midfield. They also tried to find space behind the NEROCA defence by playing through balls and found their first goal from one such move in the 28th minute.

It was Noufal once again who was involved in the gameplay that led to the goal. The midfielder tried to release forward Alejandro Lopez with a through ball. Upon receiving the ball, the Gokulam Kerala captain laid it off for Nili Perdomo, who made a fine run into the NEROCA penalty box before slotting the ball past an onrushing NEROCA goalkeeper Soram Meitei Poirei.

Gokulam’s dominance continued, and shortly after the break, they doubled their lead. In the 48th minute, substitute Abhijith K’s opportunistic play dispossessed NEROCA’s Balwinder Singh leading to Sanchez’s clinical strike. The goal reinforced Gokulam’s grip on the game as they appeared increasingly confident and cohesive as a unit.

NEROCA FC tried to gain some foothold into the game and finally scored their first goal in the tournament in the 83rd minute. NEROCA won a corner after Gokulam defender Muhammed Saheef blocked a shot from Haidar Awada. The goal arrived from the ensuing set-piece. Nonganba Singh Akoijam floated in a ball from the right and David Simbo headed home from close range.

However, the goal didn’t demoralise Gokulam Kerala. Instead, it spurred them as the Malabarians scored two goals in the space of the next five minutes to seal the game. The first came in the 85th minute. Substitute Justine Ojoka Emmanuel made a darting run into the NEROCA box before unleashing a shot, which took a deflection off a NEROCA defender and ended up in the net.

Gokulam Kerala scored their fourth goal of the match from the penalty spot. NEROCA defender Surajit Seal brought down Emmanuel inside the box and Sanchez stepped up to find the top corner of the net for his second goal of the night.

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