Football

I-League | Dicka brace helps Punjab FC best Gokulam Kerala

Ecstatic: Punjab FC’s Sergio Barboza Jr celebrates after scoring the opener against Gokulam Kerala.

Ecstatic: Punjab FC’s Sergio Barboza Jr celebrates after scoring the opener against Gokulam Kerala.  

The result saw Punjab remain in second place with 14 points, three behind leader Mohun Bagan, while Gokulam occupies fifth with 10 points.

A Dipanda Dicka brace helped Punjab FC register a 3-1 victory over Gokulam Kerala in an I-League match at the Guru Nanak Stadium here on Monday.

Sergio Barboza Jr broke the deadlock in the first-half stoppage time before a Henry Kisekka goal drew the visitors level in the 52nd minute. Dicka restored Punjab’s advantage via a free-kick in the 64th minute, before adding his second in stoppage time to seal the three points in emphatic fashion.

Punjab head coach Yan Law named an unchanged starting eleven, choosing not to experiment as the race for the title begins to take shape, with his opponent from Kerala firmly in the equation.

Fernando Varela, on the back of Gokulam’s resounding victory against East Bengal, made just two changes to his side, with Mohamed Irshad and Muthu Irulandi getting the nod in his 3-5-2 formation.

The result saw Punjab remain in second place with 14 points, three behind leader Mohun Bagan, while Gokulam occupies fifth with 10 points.

Gokulam did not waste a minute in making its intentions clear, as it took it only 20 seconds after kick-off to rattle the woodwork. Marcus Joseph had a crack from distance, but was denied by a fully stretched Kiran Limbu, who did well to get a fingertip and parry it on to the frame.

In the third minute, Joseph’s corner took an unexpected swerve towards the goal that caught everyone by surprise. But Limbu reacted well again and punched it clear.

Punjab looked all over the place, struggling to get out of its own half with Gokulam in total control.

In the 16th minute, Joseph whipped in a beautiful cross from a set-piece down the right flank, which was met by Jestin George but his touch ricocheted off the near post. The rebound fell to Joseph, who blasted wide.

In the 33rd minute, Salman Kalliyath was played through down the right and with only a man to beat, made a total hash of it. He was caught in two minds, whether to shoot or pass to a lurking Kisekka, but in the end did neither.

Much against the run of play, Punjab took the lead in the first minute of first-half stoppage time. A Cavin Lobo strike from distance hit Dicka on the way, who knew nothing about it, but the deflection fell kindly to Barboza Jr who made no mistake.

Gokulam played all the football, but it was Punjab which walked away with the goal heading into the break.

In the second half, Gokulam stuck to its game plan and was rewarded in the 52nd minute. Yet another exquisite Joseph set-piece found Kisekka whose thundering shot hit the crossbar and went in.

Punjab added a third in the first minute of stoppage time. With three minutes to go, Ubaid made a horrible error with the ball at his feet.

With Dicka lurking, the Kerala keeper tried to dribble past and was made to pay. Dicka snatched the ball from his feet and with the keeper in no-man’s land, added a third to seal the three points for Punjab.

The result: Punjab FC 3 (Sergio Barboza Jr, Dipanda Dicka 2) bt Gokulam Kerala 1 (Henry Kisekka).

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 1:01:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/i-league-dicka-brace-helps-punjab-fc-best-gokulam-kerala/article30609197.ece

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