New Delhi: Defending champions Aizawl FC defeated top division newcomers Gokulam Kerala FC 2-0 in an I-League encounter in Kozhikode on Sunday (December 31). An own goal by Gokulam defender Daniel Addo (45th minute) put Aizawl in the lead right at the stroke of half-time. Andrei Ionescu doubled the lead for the visitors with a fine strike in the 52nd minute.
The defending champions have now jumped two spots to the fifth position on the I-league ladder with 10 points from five matches. They are right behind Mohun Bagan who also have 10 points. But the Kolkata giants sit a rung above the defending champions due to a superior goal difference.
Gokulam slipped a spot to the ninth position, just above bottom placed Churchill Brothers. The I-League debutants are on four points from six matches, a tally similar to eighth placed Chennai City FC.
Gokulam however, trail their fellow southerners due to an inferior goal difference. Gokulam started without their star striker Kamo Bayi and opted to defend in their own half rather than attacking the visitors from the kick-off.
On the other hand, Aizawl FC’s foreign recruits Yugo Kobayashi and Ionescu continued to press hard but the hosts managed to contain the flurry of attacks by the visitors until the last minute of the first-half.
Lalram Hmunmawia put in a low cross for Kobayashi from the left flank but eventually Gokulam’s Ghanaian defender Daniel Addo poked the ball into the net while attempting a clearance.
After the change of ends, Aizawl took only seven minutes to double the lead from Ionescu’s brilliant effort.
Lalmuankima started a counter-attack on his own from the Aizawl half and unleashed a lively pass to the Romanian striker who did well to beat a defender and find the back of the net from the top of the box.
(With IANS inputs)