Ahmedabad: A dominant Gokulam Kerala thrashed Kickstart FC Karnataka 5-0 to become the Indian Women's League (IWL) champions for the third season in a row here on Sunday.
Sabitra Bhandari (5'), Sandhiya Ranganathan (22', 52'), Indumathi Kathiresan (37'), and Roja Devi (80') were the scorers.
Gokulam's performance at the TransStadia was as much a display of their brilliance as it was an indication of how far behind their rivals are.
The first goal should have served as a warning for everything that was to follow. Gokulam had taken control of possession right from the start and in the fifth minute Dangmei Grace danced around a static Kickstart midfield to release Bhandari into space on the right of the box.
The threat of a goal was non-existent, boxed as she was by a defender, but more importantly the angle and the distance. None of that has ever mattered when 'Samba' is on the ball, and she proved it once again. Letting fly from almost the right corner of the box towards the far post. Maibam Linthoingambi's desperate dive was in vain. Gokulam had a lead from which they never looked back.
In the 22nd minute, Sandhiya Ranganathan picked up a pass on the Gokulam right and drove into the box. Once inside she dummied, wrong-footing Linthoi who was expecting a cutback, before blasting through at the near post to double her team's lead.
Kickstart went into the break three goals down.
Kickstart came out for the second half, renewed, and even registered a first shot on target via a Wangkhem Linthoigambi pile driver in the 47th minute. Five minutes later though, Gokulam scored again, and again Bhandari was at the centre of the action.
The striker collected the ball on the left side of the Kickstart box, feinted to go one way and with a swift turn of the hips went in another, leaving Dalima Chhibber in her wake. Her cross was perfect, and Sandhiya rose to head it in.