Defending champions Gokulam Kerala FC began their Indian Women’s League campaign with a thumping 8-2 victory over East Bengal FC in a Group A match at the TransStadia on Wednesday, April 26.

Five goals from Sabitra Bhandari, a goal each from Indumathi Kathiresan, Vivian Konadu Adjei and skipper Dangmei Grace helped the team from Kerala register a convincing victory. This was East Bengal’s first match in the IWL, country’s top women’s club competition.

Bhandari opened the scoring when she beat East Bengal custodian Jambalu Tayang and put the ball into an empty net in the early stages of the match. She added her second goal of the match after receiving a defence-splitting pass from the midfield and rounded off Jambalu again to score an easy goal.

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Indumathi made it 3-0 with a volley that beat Jambalu hands down at the top corner. Rimpa Halder reduced the margin for the Red and Golds with a volley from inside the penalty box which brought them back into the game for a while.

Bhandari then completed her hat-trick when a defensive mishap made it easier for the Gokulam forward to find the target. Tulsi Hembram pulled one back for East Bengal when the match resumed after half time. Tulsi got past the Gokulam defence on sheer physical strength and placed it nicely into the back of the net.

After this, it was all Gokulam who dominated the match. Bhandari scored her fourth goal of the match when she curled in a brilliant right footer into the top corner from outside the penalty box giving Jambalu practically no chance to save.


Mumbai Knights, Sports Odisha off to narrow wins

In another Group A match, Mumbai Knights defeated Kahaani Football Club by a solitary goal, through striker Priyanka, who scored in the 24th minute.

Meanwhile at the Shahibaug Police Station Ground, Sports Odisha edged HOPS FC Delhi 3-2 in a well-contested encounter. After a goalless first half, the match came to life when Odisha struck twice in a span of eight minutes through Rekha Poudel (51st) and substitute Manisha Naik (58th). HOPS, however, came back strongly to level scores with goals from Shailja (71st) and Rajni Bala (81st).

Anju however, found a later winner in stoppage time to help the Odisha-team claim the win.

At the TransStadia, Bangalore’s Misaka United FC scored once in each half to get the better of Mata Rukmani Football Club, Chhattisgarh 2-0. Both goals were scored by Lalrinmuani.