I-League 2017-18: Arjun Jayaraj's late strike ensures Gokulam Kerala's victory over Shillong Lajong
Gokulam FC rode on Arjun Jayaraj's late strike to beat Shillong Lajong 3-2 and register their maiden home win of the season in a thrilling I-League match on Sunday.
Kozhikode: Gokulam FC rode on Arjun Jayaraj's late strike to beat Shillong Lajong 3-2 and register their maiden home win of the season in a thrilling I-League match on Sunday.
Abdoulaye Koffi took only 25 minutes to put Lajong in the driver's seat as the visitors went into the changing room with the slender lead.
More thrilling action unfolded in the second half with four goals being scored in the next 45 minutes.
Bahrainian midfielder Mahmood Alajmi restored the parity for the hosts in the 52nd minute before they conceded another within 60 seconds as Lajong's Korean defender Zuho Oh headed Samuel's free kick home.
Gokulam made the most of Lajong's defensive lapse as Kivi Zhimoni put the hosts back in the fight once again in the 74th minute.
Finally, Jayaraj took responsibility and went whizzing past the Lajong defenders as he blasted the back of the net to swing the match in their favour.
The visitors started on a high in their quest to bag three points on the road.
The Highlanders were heavily banking on their lanky striker Koffi, who delivered rightly in the 25th minute, having tapped in Samuel's superb cross from the wing.
Bino Geroge's boys were pushing hard but the equaliser was eluding them till the seventh minute of the second half when Alajmi's curling free-kick banged the target to send the Gokulam FC dugout in a delirium.
Their joy was cut short as Zuho Oh headed Lajong's second goal within 60 seconds of conceding the first goal of the match.
Lajong assistant coach Alison mentioned his squad is a young one and they need more experience in the higher stage. Their inexperience cost huge as Zhimoni caught their defence napping and cancelled the visitors' lead once again.
In the 90th minute Jayaraj's stupendous effort put the hosts in the lead for the first time and they were able to maintain the lead till the final whistle to bag their first three-pointer at the home.
Lajong will now host the Mariners on February 3 and Gokulam Kerala FC will travel to the state of Manipur to play NEROCA FC next day.
"It's not in our hands, but if we don't make any more mistakes we will put pressure on the others," Koeman told a press conference ahead of a game against Levante on Tuesday.
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