DULER: Gokulam FC, Kerala became the second outstation team to march into the semifinals of the 1st AWES Cup after managing to hold Sporting Clube de Goa to a 2-2 draw at Duler stadium on Tuesday.
In a game that saw fortunes fluctuate, Gokulam FC who needed a draw to make it to the semifinals were the first to score in the first session. The second session saw Sporting take the initiative only to allow the boys from Kerala come back in the last seconds of the game.
The first session saw two goals that had class. Both strikes were driven by pure power and, in a way, showed intent of what was to come as the game progressed. First, Nigerian Adelaja scored a goal that had power and placement for Gokulam and later it was the turn of Sporting Clube de Goa’s George to equalise with a powerful shot.
Gokulam started scoring in the 7th minute when Nigerian Adelaja Somide – who scored a hat-trick against Vasco SC – utilised a defensive lapse by the Sporting defenders and slammed the ball past keeper Melroy Fernandes, 1-0.
Sporting regrouped themselves and in the 19th minute Victorino Fernandes – who had also registered a hat-trick against Vasco SC – dribbled past a host of defenders and set up George D’Souza just outside the penalty box. His scorching right footer appeared to have blinded Gokulam keeper Ajmal PA, 1-1.
In the last minutes before the breather, a pinpoint cross by Adelaja Somide saw Irshad fail to head home.
At the other end, Victorino picked the ball from the midfield and after covering some ground, picked up Mauvin Borges on the right flank who in turn sent an intelligent ball to Alesh Sawant. However, before the latter could do any damage Gokulam keeper Ajmal left his charge to thwart danger.
Sporting coach Mateus Costa brought in Marcus Mascarenhas for Alesh Sawant in the second half.
Just two minutes on crossing over, Sushant Mathew caught the Sporting defence napping as he sent a defensive splitting pass to Rashid Mohd. However, this time it was Sporting keeper Melroy who made a breathtaking save.
A long floater from medio Giresh Naik in the 59th minute saw Marcus Mascarenhas dart inside the penalty box where he clashed with stopper back Gokulam Ugochukwu Godswill and the onrushing keeper Ajmal failed to collect the ball cleanly and the ball rolled to Marcus who slotted the ball into the nets to send their supporters into raptures, 2-1.
Trailing by a goal, Gokulam showed more purpose in the attack and a stinging free kick by Nasar DA had to be tipped over the post by keeper Melroy.
Another glorious chance was squandered by Gokulam when Rashid Mohd dribbled past the Sporting keeper and set up Ananthu Murali whose shot was blocked by the defender and the ball travelled to Shihad N who failed miserably to tap the ball into an unguarded goal.
However, Gokulam FC broke the hearts of the Flaming Orange supporters in the 90th minute when Sushant Mathew sent a floater inside the Sporting box, and in a goalmouth melee Shihad N scored the equaliser, 2-2.
With six minutes of added time, Sporting went all out in search of the winner. A 30-yard free kick by Cajetan Fernandes was swayed over the post by the Gokulam keeper.