I-League: Gokulam Kerala keeps East Bengal with 1-1 draw

KOZHIKODE: Marcus joseph & Victor Perez He scored for his teams when Gokulam Kerala played an entertaining 1-1 draw with the Kolkata giants East bengal , on Tuesday.

Joseph broke the deadlock in the ninth minute before Perez's penalty on the 24th leveled the scores.

The hosts were reduced to 10 men in the second half, before being reduced to nine players minutes before the full-time whistle. However, they showed a great resilience.

Gokulam gaffer Fernando Santiago Valera showed faith in his XI that earned a point against Punjab & named an unchanged side for the evening, while QEB head coach Mario Rivera reflected two alterations. Gurwinder Singh He replaced Asheer Akhtar in the back, while Kassim Aidara returned to the lineup.

It was Gokulam who came all guns blazing after kick-off & caught the visitors napping on a couple of occasions in the first 15 minutes. It took the hosts only nine minutes to go in front through skipper Joseph, who had a crack from just outside the box & found the back of the net.

The visitors found their way back into the game in the 24th minute, when Juan Mera's mazy run was recklessly intercepted by Naocha Singh inside the box, conceding a penalty & his first yellow card of the game. New signing Victor Perez stepped up for the spot-kick & converted successfully to restore parity for QEB.

The rhythm of the game fell a couple of beats after the equalizer, since either side struggled to penetrate for the rest of the half. Marcos Jiménez De La Espada had a crack from a distance, which was not too far away for a speculative blow, but that was how he stayed at rest, one goal each.

Gokulam made a horrendous start to the second half as they went down to 10-men. Naocha Singh was given his marching orders & was shown a second yellow & subsequently, a red card for yet another bookable offence.

The hosts showed resilience despite going a man down & continued to threaten & test EB's resistance Nathaniel Garcia's immaculate long ball found Joseph, who could only get a head to the end of the delivery, but Mirshad was well-positioned to collect. On the break, Abhash Thapa went on a solo run & after having made his way inside the Gokulam box, forced a quality save out of Ubaid.

In the 72nd minute, Juan Mera showcased his flamboyance by making yet another delightful run, completely leaving Andre Etienne at bay & when he had the opportunity to shoot, went for an audacious chip over the keeper instead. To his agony, the woodwork came to Ubaid's rescue.

Salman, in the 81st minute, seemed to have done everything right with his right-footed curler but Mirshad made amends for his earlier error & produced an excellent save to tip it over the bar.

Gokulam, of 10 men, almost won him to death when the perfectly substituted shot of Lalromawia found the bottom of the net to send the local crowd through the fence, but the celebrations were short-lived as the line judge had his Offside flag. When protesting the decision, Haroon Amiri was shown his second yellow card of the day, as Gokulam finished with nine men, minutes before the full-time whistle sounded.

East bengal remain at fourth place with 20 points, while Gokulam Kerala rise a place above to sixth with 19.