Durand Cup defending champions Gokulam Kerala kept their hopes alive of making it to the knockout rounds. They registered a slender 1-0 win over Hyderabad FC in a Group D encounter at the Municipal Stadium in Kalyani.
A second-half goal from Rahim Osamanu allowed the Malabarians to pick up all three points against a second-string Hyderabad FC side in the Durand Cup.
Gokulam Kerala FC dominated proceedings in the first half with more of the ball. The I-League side showed purpose and intent with the ball and created an ample amount of chances in the first half.
Rahim Osumanu found himself unmarked right in front of Lalbiakhlua Jongte in goal but put it wide from point-blank range. Emil Benny squandered yet another golden opportunity to take the lead. Osumanu found Benny with a pin-point cross from the left but the latter put it wide.
The first half ended with Gokulam Kerala having the better scoring opportunities despite Hyderabad FC having more of the ball. Thangboi Singto's side played the ball among themselves and preferred to keep the possession in the first forty five minutes.
Gokulam Kerala took the lead in the second-half of the Durand Cup
Gokulam Kerala continued their onslaught in the second-half and were accordingly rewarded. Rahi Osumanu found himself in the right place at the right time when he slotted home a rebound off an initial save made by Jongte at goal to break the deadlock in the 46th minute.
However, Hyderabad FC soon got a lifeline when Emil Benny was sent off in the very next minute due to a second yellow card. This reduced Gokulam Kerala to 10-men in this Durand Cup encounter.
Hyderabad FC put all of their men upfront to try to get the equalizer. But a gritty Gokulam Kerala side managed to keep a cleansheet by defending deep in the entirety of the second-half. Gokulam Kerala goalkeeper Ajmla PA was kept busy as Hyderabad FC kept testing Kerala's number one at goal.
Sharif Mohammad was adjudged the man of the match for his defensive and leadership duties for Gokulam Kerala. They now stand second in Group D of the Durand Cup after this result. Hyderabad FC are placed third in the group and have to win the next game to keep themselves in contention for the knockouts.
Gokulam Kerala will now face Assam Rifles. While Hyderabad FC will have their task cut out against group leaders Army Red on the final matchday of the Durand Cup group stages.