Trinidad footballer Marcus Joseph inspired Gokulam Kerala FC to a memorable 2-1 Durand Cup-victory against hot-favourites Mohun Bagan at the Salt lake Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday. The former Bagan player scored twice to stun the Kolkata-biggie in front of their home crowd.
Joseph converted a penalty awarded to Kerala at the stoppage time of the first half. He struck again right at the start of the second half as he doubled the lead for Gokulam with a menacing left-footer. The Mariners, let down by a dismal performance from the defense, upped their ante with a string of attacks after the changeover. They attained success to some extent when Salva Chamorro reduced the gap between the teams with a header off a Joseba Beitia free-kick in the 64th minute.
However, Gokulam’s defense stood strong and prevented the home team from equalizing. Down with 10 men for the last three minutes after Jestin George was shown red card, the Kerala-based side displayed solid grit in their defense. With the win they became only the second team from Kerala, after FC Kochin, to lay their hands on the title of Asia’s oldest football tournament.
Mohun Bagan have last won the world’s third oldest football tournament way back in 2000 when they had defeated Mahindra United 2-1. With a much more balanced unit than Gokulam many anticipated an easy victory for the Kolkata club. But a sorry state of defense and a hefty mistake by goalkeeper Debjit Majumder helped Gokulam pip their strong rival.
The first was properly balanced as both the teams looked on equal footing, while Mohun Bagan controlled the ball possession. However, one on one with Joseph, Debjit committed a foul as he pulled down his former teammate inside the box. Referee Ajit Kumar Meitei was in a nice position and had no hesitation in awarding Gokulam a penalty. Joseph stepped up to take the penalty and found the back of the net with ease.
He came to haunt the Mariners again within just six minutes of the second half. A lapse in Bagan defense saw Gokulam’s Naocha Singh create a great opportunity for Joseph. The Trinidadian surged pass Lalchhawnkima and scored the second goal of the match with his left-foot. Desperately in need for a goal, Mohun Bagan raised their intensity in attack but could only manage a solitary goal which helped them in no way.