Girona FC gave football lessons to Kerala Blasters as the Spanish top division side thrashed the ISL outfit 5-0 to win the inaugural Toyota Yaris LaLiga World tournament in Kochi on Saturday. Also Read - ISL 2020/21: Scot Nevill Secures Draw For SC East Bengal With Late Equaliser Against Kerala
Blasters looked a much-improved side, starting the final fixture with a 4-4-2 formation, and tightening the defence with their wingers sitting deep. Also Read - ISL 2020/21: Diego Mauricio Scores Brace as Odisha FC Beat Kerala Blasters For First Win of Season
On the other hand, Girona’s strategy was no different from their first game as they looked to attack from the word go. Also Read - ISL 2020/21: Kerala Blasters Beat Hyderabad FC 2-0 to Register Their First Win of Season
The home side managed to hold the fort till the half-hour mark, making all the necessary interceptions and keeping Girona forwards at bay. The Spanish side kept pressing with more possession through the first half, but the defensive formation worked well for David James’ side.
Three minutes before halftime, a rare defensive lapse by the Blasters backline led to Eric Montes scoring the first goal of the match, amazingly against the run of play. The Spanish right-back made a run down the right to find the back of the net from a very tight angle.
The second half saw the home team start with three men at the back with Mohammad Rakip and Prasanth K operating as wing-backs.
Girona FC’s midfield kept improving as they played some spectacular one-touch football and created chances. The constant attacking play finally paid off for the La Liga side and the lack of communication between the Blasters goalkeeper Naveen Kumar and defence saw Girona winger Pedro Porro easily push one into the open net to make it 2-0 in the 53rd minute.
Four minutes later, Girona skipper Alex Granell scored the third as Yhoan Many made a superb run down the left to go past Prasanth and cut one into his unmarked skipper, who made no mistake in putting the ball behind the Kerala goalkeeper.
The Kerala defence, which had a firm command on the game in the first half, was nowhere close to their best in the second. Blasters kept losing possession in the midfield that led to Girona making the counter runs and unsettling the Kerala defence at regular intervals.
In the 61st minute an impressive free-kick from Blasters’ Ghanaian import Courage Pekuson almost them their first goal, but for a brilliant save by Girona’s goalkeeper.
It was business as usual then as Aday Benitez’s left-footer took Blasters’ defenders deflection to find the back of the net in the 73rd minute. Kerala goalkeeper could hardly do anything with the slight deflection.
To add to the home team’s woes, Blasters conceded a penalty in the added time. Aleix Garcia smartly placed the ball into the bottom right corner.
“Playing against a team that features in the top 3 leagues of the world is in itself a big feat. We managed to keep things pretty tight in the first half, the final scoreline definitely doesn’t suggest the same but I think we looked a much-improved side today from the first match,” Blasters coach David James said.
Blasters were drubbed 6-0 by A-League side Melbourne City FC in the tournament opener.
“There are a lot of positives that we take from this tournament, we have a long preseason coming up ahead of us and with some fantastic young players in the squad, I think we will be a force to reckon with once the ISL season begins,” added James.
Eusebio Sacritsan, manager of Girona FC, who stunned Real Madrid in the last season, said, “I am happy with the way we have kick-started our pre-season, we focused on the technical aspects and have been training hard from the past three weeks.
“This tournament was a learning experience for us as we got to play in a completely different weather from what we usually play, the crowd was fantastic and I would like to congratulate all the people who turned out for our matches.