Durand Cup 2019: East Bengal crash out after losing to Gokulam Kerala FC on penalties | Match Report
A disappointing performance from East Bengal saw them crash out of the Durand Cup tournament after losing to Gokulam Kerala at the Salt Lake Stadium on Wednesday. After 120 minutes, the match was deadlocked at 1-1 but three misses in the penalty shoot-out saw East Bengal lose by a 2-3 margin.
The Red and Golds got the lead in the 18th minute through a beautiful volley from Samad Ali Mullick. Marcus Joseph equalised for Gokulam in injury time as the match went into extra-time.
The match eventually entered a penalty shoot-out and East Bengal saw two of their efforts saved while one hit the post. Gokulam won even before they took their last shot.
Story of the match
East Bengal coach Alejandro Menendez didn’t take a risk and fielded a full-strength squad against Gokulam Kerala. However, Borja Gomez Perez was missing from the line-up as country-mate Marti Crespi got the nod ahead of him.
The Red and Golds acquired early ascendancy in the match. They could’ve got the lead in the 2nd minute but Pintu Mahata’s shot hit the post. A few moments later, captain Lalrindika Ralte delivered a beautiful pass to Bidyasagar Singh but the Manipuri failed to connect with it.
Gokulam had a tough time in the first ten minutes and East Bengal dominated the game. Their passing and crosses were absolute beauties. However, they again fell short in the attacking third.
The visiting side gradually got control of the match and it was Trinidadian Marcus Joseph who took the responsibility. His running and dribbling caused trouble to East Bengal defenders. But Henry Kisekka didn’t contribute much. Mahata also missed a golden chance to double the lead for East Bengal.
Gokulam missed their golden opportunity in the injury time of the first half. Due to a misunderstanding, Crespi’s head was going inside his own net. However, Kisekka tried to score himself and his effort went wide, much to the dismay of his teammates.
The visiting side changed their approach in the second half and tried to penetrate East Bengal more from the wing. Kisekka was given a more direct role with Joseph remained as the main threat in East Bengal defence.
East Bengal kept on attacking from the wings but the crosses weren’t up to mark. Also, they tried to score through long balls which were of no use as Gokulam defenders cleared them easily.
Gokulam coach Fernando Valera introduced former Chennaiyin FC midfielder Bruno Pelissari in the 75th minute and this changed the complexion of the match. Pelissari filled the missing link the Gokulam midfield and they pressed more on the opponent box.
All their perseverance paid off in the 92nd minute when East Bengal defender Mehtab Singh pulled down Kisekka inside the box and Gokulam were given a penalty. Mehtab was shown a red card immediately. Joseph equalised from the spot.
The match went to extra-time and Gokulam maintained the same pressure on their opponents while East Bengal’s task became difficult as they were short of a player.
Just few minutes into the 2nd half of extra-time, Kisekka got another superb cross in a favourable position but his lame effort was easily saved by East Bengal custodian Mirshad.
East Bengal’s misfortune continued in the penalty shoot-out too. Their first two shots were off-target. Bidysagar Singh hit the post while Jaime Santos’s effort was saved by Ubaid CK. In the fifth shot, Ubaid made another save off Tondomba Singh to win the match for his team.
Fernando Valera: We need to improve about something about this match. The boys gave everything on the pitch but we need rectify some mistakes before take the field in the final.
We were thinking how we would play against East Bengal. We need to adapt to some changes. Sometime we need to play behind, sometime we need to play with aggression.
Alejandro Menendez: I think we played better football. When we were leading 1-0, we had control in the game. In 2nd half, it’s true we got ball little bit less. But with 1-0 we had couple of chances to get a lead.
My view is that the penalty changed the game. It was not a clear penalty. There are some doubts about the FIFA ruling with these actions. It was double sanction and the striker was not facing the goal. I think the rule is not clear. But anyway, I have to thank my team. Because already after one month’s training we’ve resisted them for 120 minutes.
These days FIFA allows a fourth substitution during the extra-time. I don’t know why it’s not here.
Ubaid CK (Man of the Match): May be because I wouldn’t get chance if I stayed here. I called (VC) Praveen Sir and he said no problem, come here. I am thankful to him.
This is not a revenge for me. East Bengal did everything for me. When I came here, I was nothing. They did all the job. I always have respect for East Bengal and I love the players.