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Gokulam Kerala become first team to defend title in I-League era, beating Mohammedan SC 2-1

By PTI

Gokulam Kerala FC created history by becoming the first team in the I-League era to defend its title with a 2-1 victory over Mohammedan Sporting in a fitting finale here on Sunday.

Rishad PP, who plays as a defensive midfielder, put defending champions Gokulam Kerala ahead with his 49th minute strike to stun the partisan crowd of over 35,000 at the Salt Lake Stadium.

However, the home team was soon celebrating as it found the equaliser in the 56th minute, when Marcus Joseph’s terrific free kick deflected off Azharuddin Mallick and got into the net.

The home fans’ joy, though, was short-lived as the Malabarians regained the lead when Emil Benny, running into the final third after receiving a pass from Majcen and with no defenders in sight, found the back of the opponents’ net in the 61st minute.

No club in the I-League era has defended its title. Kolkata side East Bengal had achieved the feat in the time of the National Football League, the predecessor of I-League, by winning title in 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons.

Chasing a maiden I-League title, local heavyweights Mohammedan Sporting entered the match optimistic of getting the better of the in-form side from Kerala, especially with plenty of fans backing them from the stands.

All the goals came in the second half, in the span of eleven minutes when the determined Emil Benny who running into the final third after receiving a pass from Majcen and with no defenders in sight, found the back of the opponents’ net in the 61st minute. (Source: Hero I-League)

However, the determined Malabarians did not let anything come in their way and deservingly won the title for the second straight season.

The defending champions have had a great campaign and entered the final round game just one win away from clinching their second I League title in a row.

It wasn’t an easy task taking on the home team that was undefeated in the five matches played in the playoffs, but Gokulam Kerala showed a lot of character and courage to emerge winners.

Gokulam Kerala FC were playing possession based football as a draw was sufficient for them, while Mohammedan SC too moved quickly and looked to attack.

Mohammedan SC came very close in the 25th minute, but couldn’t capitalise effectively as the ball was cleared by the Gokulam Kerala FC’s defenders.

In the 42nd minute, Zothanmawia came too far to defend but Gokulam’s Jourdaine Fletcher could not make use of the blunder by the MDSC custodian

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Dive Deeper:
Gokulam retain I-League crown
KOLKATA: For a tournament that looked like a foregone conclusion with Gokulam Kerala racing away towards retaining the title with…
Gokulam Kerala FC reaping the rewards of hard labour
Gokulam Kerala FC's founding philosophy was to become a champion team. Though it is not an easy thing to do,…
Kerala football is scoring goals aplenty, yet again
State is back on track to regain lost glory after a series of successes
Gokulam Kerala brace for AFC Cup challenge, take on ATK Mohun Bagan
KOLKATA: Fresh from winning the I-League title, a buoyant Gokulam Kerala team is faced with a new challenge as they…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Punjab FC, Neroca aim to end I-League campaign on a positive note
Pushed to the No.5 spot in the I-League table after Sreenidi Deccan FC’s resounding 3-1 victory to end table toppers…
Jurgen Klopp claims his Liverpool side can’t be compared to Bill Shankly or Bob Paisley’s
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are rewriting the history books with an era of success befitting the great teams of the 1970s…
Get all your news in one place