Ahmedabad, May 6 (IANS) Gokulam Kerala FC registered the biggest-ever win in an Indian Women’s Football League (IWL) 2023 final-round game with a 14-1 thumping of Kahaani FC at the Shahibaug Police Stadium in Ahmedabad on Saturday.
In other matches of the day, Misaka United shared the spoils with East Bengal, Mumbai Knights FC returned to winning ways against Sports Odisha while HOPS FC registered a commanding win against Mata Rukmani FC.
The day belonged to two-time defending champions Gokulam Kerala, who registered a thumping victory.
After seeing their record 21-match winning streak come to an end with a goalless draw against Misaka United on Thursday, Gokulam Kerala were again shocked when Kahaani took an early lead courtesy of a Ranjana Chanu own goal.
But after Sandhiya Ranganathan equalised in the 18th minute, there was no stopping the Malabarians. Goals from league top-scorer Sabitra Bhandari, Shilky Devi and Indhumathi Kathiresan put Gokulam 4-1 up at half-time.
Floodgates remained open in the second half as Kenyan forward Vivian Adjei and defender Ashalata Devi also wrote their names on the scoresheet. As a result, Gokulam Kerala broke their own record for the biggest winning margin in the Hero IWL set last year when they beat Odisha Police 12-0.
Ranganathan was adjudged as the Player of the Match for her five goals. Bhandari’s four goals took her season’s tally to 15, seven more than her nearest rival Kajol Dsouza of Sethu FC. Gokulam remain top of the Group A table with 13 points after five matches.
Misaka United, East Bengal share spoils
Misaka United FC continued their impressive run of results when they held on to a 1-1 draw against East Bengal FC in their Hero Indian Women’s League Group A match at the TransStadia on Saturday.
The first 20 minutes of the game saw East Bengal have two attempts on target against Misaka United’s solitary shot. Neither could find the final product as they continued to push for the first goal.
East Bengal’s biggest chance in the first half came in the 25th minute when Mousumi Murmu fired in a free-kick from a long distance. Misaka United goalkeeper Nurul Azurin Mazlan managed to get her fingertips to the ball as it bounced back into play after hitting the width of the woodwork.
Finally, in the added time of the first half, the team from Bengaluru drew first blood. Lavanya Upadhyay cut in from the left flank and struck beautifully into the top right corner to make it 1-0.
Following the break, Misaka United started on a stronger foot. They came close to doubling their lead in the 48th minute when substitute Lucy Jira went all by herself following a darting solo run from the middle of the park. However, East Bengal goalkeeper Keisham Melody Chanu managed to save the on-target shot and keep her side in the game.
At the hour mark, Lucy almost scored a screamer from outside the box. The Kenyan forward latched onto a loose ball, but the East Bengal custodian managed to tip it onto the crossbar as the ball fell back into play.
On the other side, the Red and Gold Brigade kept pushing for an equaliser. Their efforts finally paid dividends in the 70th minute when substitute Singo Murmu capitalised on an error from the Misaka United defence. Goalkeeper Nurul struggled to save the forward’s powerful grounded shot as the ball trickled into the back of the net to make it 1-1.
In the 86th minute, Lavanya Upadhyay had a golden opportunity to win it for Misaka United when she found a loose ball inside the box with just the goalkeeper at her disposal. However, she failed to keep her shot on target as the ball went agonisingly wide off the bar and the scoreline remained 1-1.
Misaka United’s Sunalinda Iawren was named the Player of the Match for her commendable display in the middle of the park.
HOPS FC register a commanding win
Meanwhile, at the Shahibaug Police Stadium, HOPS FC recorded their second win on the trot following a 3-0 triumph over Mata Rukmani FC. Skipper Renu Rani scored from the spot in the 43rd minute, while Santosh and Mamta both scored a goal apiece in the second half to ensure the Delhi-based club the victory.
Renu Rani was named the Player of the Match for helping her side bag the important three points. The win also meant that HOPS pipped Sports Odisha into the fourth position in the Group A standings.