The Malabarians climbed up to the second place in the league standings.

Gokulam Kerala climbed to the second spot in the I-League table after defeating Minerva Punjab 1-0 at the EMS Corporation Stadium on Sunday. Rajesh Soosainayagam scored what turned out to be the only goal of the game for the southerners. Although, the match was marred by the halt of play for 20 minutes in the first half due to technical issues, it did not fail to showcase the hosts’ excellent gameplay. 

Here are the five takeaways from the game:

5. Gokulam Kerala showcased their aerial capability

Minerva Punjab depended on the long-balls from their backline to break Gokulam’s defence. But, as it has been the case for the team from Punjab throughout this season, they failed to trouble Gokulam much and the home side had nothing special to do to hinder Minerva’s attacking intents, especially in the second half.

4. Minerva falter despite being the better side once again

While Minerva had their defence organised and compact, a moment of brilliance initiated by Abhishek Das and finished by Rajesh gave the home side the lead against the run of play.

Although, Minerva had more chances to bury the game, Donatus Edafe had other things on his mind and squandered all of them. But, that wouldn’t go against the fact that he was the most active threat for Gokulam’s defence when Minerva were on song.

3. Abhishek Das will be one of the integral parts of Gokulam’s campaign

Das turned out to be the Hero of the Match, denying Edafe twice in the first half on his own and keeping his side alive in the game. The right-back held his ground strongly against the seasoned Nigerian forward and also came out on top.

Abhishek was involved on both sides of the pitch equally well, being the mastermind of the only goal of the game scored by Rajesh. He skipped past the challenge of a Minerva Punjab midfielder before teeing up a through-ball for Gani Nigam to chase.


2. Rajesh continued his impressive form for Gokulam

Rajesh scored the second goal of his season to give the home side a crucial lead in the second half. He has been on a good run of form for the Malabarians and the winner would only increase his confidence ahead of stiffer games.

The 25-year-old striker from Thiruvananthapuram is a household name in the Santosh Trophy and will be looking forward to establishing himself in the top flight.

1. A game for the history books?

A total of 26 minutes (21 in the first half and five in the second half) were added in the game, making it one of the longest in the history of Asian football.

The extra minutes were added because of the failure of floodlights in the stadium due to malfunctioning of the generators and lead to a stoppage of 20-odd minutes in the first half.

Interestingly, Minerva Punjab have been involved in two such games this year already, that have had added-time of more than 20 minutes. The other game was in the Punjab Super League against CRPF Football Club. It had 20 minutes of added-time, after the referee Paramjeet Singh broke his ankle.