AFC Cup: Gokulam Kerala crash out after narrow defeat to Bashundhara Kings

Gokulam Kerala
Action between Gokulam Kerala (green) and Bashundhara Kings in the AFC Cup at VYBK Stadium in Kolkata on Tuesday. Photo: Special arrangement

Kolkata: Bashundhara Kings eliminated Gokulam Kerala from the AFC Cup with a 2-1 win at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium on Tuesday.

Captain Robinho was outstanding for the Bangladeshi champions, scoring one brilliant goal and setting up another.

In a later match, ATK Mohun Bagan dished out a dominant performance to book their place in the AFC Cup inter-zone semifinals with a resounding 5-2 win over Maziya Sports & Recreation to top Group D.

With all four teams in the group starting the final Matchday on three points, both Gokulam Kerala and Bashundhara had all to play for and both went close to scoring within five minutes, with Robinho seeing an effort deflected wide at one end, and Jithin MS going close at the other.

But the Bangladeshi side took the initiative from then on, racking up 14 shots to three in the first half, seven of which were taken by Robinho, who forced Rakshit Dagar into a brilliant save on 27 minutes as pressure grew on the Kings’ I-League opponents.

The Brazilian was virtually a one-man attack for Bashundhara at times, and the only surprise when he opened the scoring on 36 minutes was the brilliance of the strike, as he tricked his way past a pair of defenders before curling in a sensational 20-yard effort, which will surely rank among the goals of the tournament at season’s end.

He nearly added a second after another mazy fun five minutes later, but a 1-0 half-time lead was the least Robinho and Bashundhara deserved after a terrific response to Saturday’s 4-0 defeat against ATK Mohun Bagan.

Their knockout stage hopes were further boosted when Robinho turned provider, floating in a delightful cross from the left-hand side, with Marong’s thumping header too much for Dagar to handle in the 54th minute.

Having started so brightly against ATK Mohun Bagan on Matchday One, Gokulam Kerala’s campaign now looked destined to end in disappointment, but they carved out a lifeline when Jourdain Fletcher arrowed a low strike into the net following Mohammed Jassim’s cross with a quarter of an hour remaining.

With Fletcher hammering a free kick against the crossbar in the 90th minute, the Kerala side pushed hard for an equaliser, but their failure to find it signalled the end of their AFC Cup campaign.

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.