Sporting Clube de Goa scored a late goal to hold Gokulam Kerala FC 1-1 and take a giant step towards the semi-final of the AWES Cup, organised by Association for the Wellbeing of Elder Sportspersons (AWES) in collaboration with Sports Authority of Goa (SAG) at Tilak Maidan, Vasco, on Wednesday.
Gokulam were cruising with the help of Nasar PA’s 27th minute strike until half time. The visitors, however, were struggled in the second session and invited more pressure in the final minutes when substitute Shahbas Saleel was sent off in the 87th minute. There was more pressure as Sporting pressed for the equaliser and finally found success in the final minute of added time.
Substitute Akeraj Martins scored the precious goal that gave Sporting Clube a point. They now have four points from two matches and will qualify for the semi-finals if they manage a draw against ONGC in their concluding league clash. Gokulam have only a point from their first two games and need a miracle to qualify. They play in their final league game on Friday.
After the setback against ONGC in their opening game, Gokulam tried to secure their first win and were all over the rival territory in the opening minutes.
Sporting Clube had chances as well but it was Gokulam who took the lead in the 27th minute. Goalkeeper Melroy Fernandes’ shot was intercepted in-between and the resultant pass saw Nasar give the finishing touches for the opening goal.
It was not until the second session that Sporting Clube enjoyed a clear advantage. Captain Victorino Fernandes missed a good chance when in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper and then Quan Gomes also had the misfortune of seeing his attempt from inside the box sail over the bar.
Sporting, however, were not to be denied the equaliser, even though it came at the fag end of the match. A nice ball on the left saw Glan Martins race to intercept and then float it towards the goalmouth when Akeraj did well to score from close range.