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10-man Gokulam Kerala pip Mariners to lift their maiden Durand Cup

Durand Cup 2019 champions Gokulam Kerala FC. (Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)
Durand Cup 2019 champions Gokulam Kerala FC. Photo courtesy: AIFF Media

Mohun Bagan AC had the support of the crowd, but Gokulam Kerala FC came out with the upper hand, silencing the 43,000-odd strong crowd, defeating the Green and Maroons 2-1 on Saturday, August 24, at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata.

Marcus Joseph was the star of the match, scoring on either side of the half-time break. His efforts in the final took his 2019 Durand Cup tally to 11 goals, a feat that earned him the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball awards.

Despite the vociferous support for the Green and Maroons, it was Gokulam, who got off on the front foot. Malem Meetei had a chance early on but scuffed his shot wide. Bagan’s Spanish defender Francisco Morante was instrumental in keeping the Kerala side out in the early exchanges.

Despite his effort, however, it was Marcus Joseph, who opened the scoring in the first-half injury time. Kisekka was played through inside the box and was eventually brought down as the referee pointed to the spot. Joseph made no mistake as he slotted the penalty hard and low, silencing the crowd.

The Trinidad and Tobago striker doubled Gokulam’s lead, a few minutes into the second half, as he was played through into the box by Kisekka, and went on to slot it past Bagan keeper Debjit Majumder.

However, the game was far from over, as Mohun Bagan gaffer Kibu Vicuna played his hand right after the second goal, introducing Indian and Spanish midfielders Romario Jesuraj and Francisco Gonzalez.

This tipped the flow of the game in the Green and Maroons’ favour, and forward Salvador Martinez finally pulled one goal back a little after the hour mark.

The Kolkata giants kept up the pressure for the entirety of the second half. They saw an even brighter glimmer of hope in the last few minutes, when Gokulam defender Jestin George was shown given his marching order via a second booking, after a miss-timed tackle.

However, Gokulam held on for dear life and went on to lift their first-ever Durand Cup trophy.

Individual award winners are as follows:

Golden Gloves: Ubaid CK (Gokulam Kerala FC)

Golden Boot and Golden Ball: Marcus Joseph (Gokulam Kerala FC)

(AIFF Media)