Super Cup: Gokulam breeze past NorthEast United 2-0 to book final round berth

File Photo : Churchill Brothers
IANS|15-Mar-2018 23:27

Bhubaneswar, March 15 : I-League outfit Gokulam Kerala FC rode on Ugandan striker Henry Kisekka's brace either side of halftime to beat Indian Super League's wooden spooners NorthEast United FC in a Super Cup qualifier at the Kalinga Stadium here on Thursday.

Kisekka (43rd, 75th) scored both his goals from Arjun Jayaraj's assists, first making the most of a brilliant through ball on the right side to slam home from the edge of the box and then turning in a square pass from a similar area.

Gokulam will now take on ISL finalists Bengaluru FC on April 1 in the final round.

The combination of Kisseka and Mudde Mussa tested the Highlanders' defence early on with Kisseka coming close in the seventh minute. Lalrindika Ralte found the back of the net at the other end but his goal was disallowed for off-side.

Gokulam continued to create havoc while NorthEast tried to hit on the counter through their Brazilian duo of Danilo and Marcio with Fanai Lalrempuia's making dangerous runs from the right.

After a series of opportunities, the Jayaraj-Kisseka combination struck gold in the 43rd minute. Jayaraj's through ball from the right was controlled beautifully by Kisseka who put it into the far right side-netting and propel Gokulam into the lead. The first half-ended with Kerala clearly on the upswing.

NorthEast rang in the second half with their first substitution by bringing in Reagan Singh for Nirmal Chetri. The Highlanders began on a promising note with with Narzary playing a key role in two chances, with one of them being muffed up by Danilo. Rowlin Borges, who had a comparatively quite game, missed a chance and was promptly taken off by Grant, who brought in the more attacking Len Doungel in the 66th minute.

Couple of more changes followed as Alajmi was replaced by 23-year old Macedonian forward, Hristijan Denkovski who made his debut for the club and Swedish forward Maic Sema was brought on in place of Narzary. All three changes occurred within a span of five minutes.

However, it was Gokulam's day as Kisseka struck the nail in the Highlanders' coffin. A wonderful through from Salman inside the box on the right to Jayaraj, found him in cutting in and squaring it to the Ugandan who finished it off coolly to double the lead in the 75th minute.

The Highlanders had a chance to make a comeback but Len Doungel and Lopez missed two gilt-edged chances in the 76th and 77th minutes. Len got his flying header straight into the hands of Nikhil Barnard, while Danilo Lopes placed it wide in an on one on one situation.

Bino George indicated signs of shutting shop in the 84th minute, by bringing on Sushanth Mathew in place of Salman. With five minutes added on soon after it was too little for the NorthEast to mount a fight back. A shot on the bar from the Highlanders summing up their night of frustration.