La Liga World tournament: Girona FC thrash Kerala Blasters 5-0 to win inaugural tournament
Girona FC gave football lessons to Kerala Blasters as the Spanish top division side thrashed the ISL outfit 5-0 to win the inaugural Toyota Yaris LaLiga World tournament on Saturday.
Kochi: Girona FC gave football lessons to Kerala Blasters as the Spanish top division side thrashed the ISL outfit 5-0 to win the inaugural Toyota Yaris LaLiga World tournament on Saturday.
Blasters looked a much-improved side, starting the final fixture with a 4-4-2 formation, and tightening the defence with their wingers sitting deep.
On the other hand, Girona's strategy was no different from their first game as they looked to attack from the word go.
The home side managed to hold fort till the half hour mark, making all the necessary interceptions and keeping Girona forwards at bay. The Spanish side kept pressing with more possession through the first half, but the defensive formation worked well for David James' side.
Three minutes before halftime, a rare defensive lapse by the Blasters backline led to Eric Montes scoring the first goal of the match, amazingly against the run of play. The Spanish right-back made a run down the right to find the back of the net from a very tight angle.
The second half saw the home team start with three men at the back with Mohammad Rakip and Prasanth K operating as wing-backs.
Girona FC's midfield kept improving as they played some spectacular one-touch football and created chances. The constant attacking play finally paid off for the La Liga side and the lack of communication between the Blasters goalkeeper Naveen Kumar and defense saw Girona winger Pedro Porro easily push one into the open net to make it 2-0 in the 53rd minute.
Four minutes later, Girona skipper Alex Granell scored the third as Yhoan Many made a superb run down the left to go past Prasanth and cut one in to his unmarked skipper, who made no mistake in putting the ball behind the Kerala goalkeeper.
The Kerala defence, which had a firm command on the game in the first half, was nowhere close to their best in the second. Blasters kept losing possession in the midfield that led to Girona making the counter runs and unsettling the Kerala defence at regular intervals.
In the 61st minute an impressive free-kick from Blasters' Ghanaian import Courage Pekuson almost them their first goal, but for a brilliant save by Girona's goalkeeper.
It was business as usual then as Aday Benitez's left footer took Blasters' defenders deflection to find the back of the net in the 73rd minute. Kerala goalkeeper could hardly do anything with the slight deflection.
To add to the home team's woes, Blasters conceded a penalty in the added time. Aleix Garcia smartly placed the ball into the bottom right corner.
"Playing against a team that features in the top 3 leagues of the world is in itself a big feat. We managed to keep things pretty tight in the first half, the final score line definitely doesn't suggest the same but I think we looked a much improved side today from the first match," Blasters coach David James said.
Blasters were drubbed 6-0 by A-League side Melbourne City FC in the tournament opener.
"There are a lot of positives that we take from this tournament, we have a long preseason coming up ahead of us and with some fantastic young players in the squad I think we will be a force to reckon with once the ISL season begins," added James.
Eusebio Sacritsan, manager of Girona FC, who stunned Real Madrid in the last season, said, "I am happy with the way we have kick started our pre-season, we focused on the technical aspects and have been training hard from the past three weeks.
"This tournament was a learning experience for us as we got to play in a completely different weather from what we usually play, the crowd was fantastic and I would like to congratulate all the people who turned out for our matches."
Vladimir Koman (66th minute) scored from the spot to give Chennaiyin a crucial lead, eventually sealing all three points
Croatian defender Franjo Prce (17th) scored a delightful opener for the Red and Golds while Peter Hartley (45+3) equalised at the stroke of half time for the Men of Steel.
While neither side could carve out clear-cut chances in the opening exchanges, NorthEast did look threatening a couple of times