Defending champions Gokulam Kerala registered yet another huge victory when they defeated Sports Odisha 8-1 in their second Group A match of the Indian Women’s League 2023 at the TransStadia on Saturday.
In their season opener, Gokulam were runaway 8-2 winners against Kolkata’s East Bengal FC.
Sabitra Bhandari was once again on song for the Malabarians after a five-star performance against East Bengal FC in the opening game. This time the Nepal forward netted four times and took her tally to nine goals in two games.
Bhandari drew first blood for Gokulam Kerala in the seventh minute as she beat the goalkeeper one-on-one and bundled the ball into the back of the net. However, the reigning champions’ celebrations were short-lived as Sports Odisha pulled the scores level five minutes later.
Sumitra Hembram found herself in an advantageous position as she went for an ambitious attempt from outside the box. Gokulam Kerala goalkeeper Sowmiya Narayanasamy was caught off the line as the ball hit the underside of the crossbar and landed in the net.
Gokulam once again took the lead in the 28th minute. This time, Ghanaian striker Vivian Adjei got onto the scoresheet as she fired home a loose ball inside the box. The Anthony Andrews-coached side went on to make it 3-1 before half-time, as Bhandari passed the ball to an unmarked Dangmei Grace, who lashed the ball from the edge of the box to find the target.
Gokulam Kerala took complete charge of the game following the break as they dominated proceedings. In the 62nd minute, Bhandari netted her second goal of the game, after Grace’s shot was parried by the Sports Odisha goalkeeper and the resultant rebound off the crossbar landed to Bhandari, who made no mistake.
The next minute, the Nepalese striker completed her hat-trick as she poked the ball past the goalkeeper to make it 5-1. Indumathi Kathiresan came up with the assist for the goal. With 20 minutes left on the clock, youngster Hemam Shilky Devi joined Gokulam Kerala’s party by heading home the sixth goal off a Sorokhaibam Ranjana Chanu corner. The youthful defender leapt high to place the ball perfectly into the top-left corner.
The goals kept coming for the Malabarians as Bhandari scored her fourth of the match off a rebound. Substitute forward Harmilan Kaur saw her attempt from the left-hand side of the box saved and the resultant ball was squared off comfortably by the Nepalese striker.
In the 86th minute, Vivian Adjei converted a penalty to make it 8-1. The Ghanaian was brought down inside the box by Poonam and the forward made no mistake in slotting it home.
East Bengal off the mark
IWL debutants East Bengal FC bounced back after their defeat in the opening game to register a narrow 1-0 win over Kahaani FC. The Red and Gold Brigade held onto skipper Ratna Halder’s 79th-penalty to take three points home.
HOPS FC picked up three points with a narrow 1-0 win over Misaka United FC at the TransStadia. A 63rd-minute minute strike from substitute Renu Rani was enough for the team from New Delhi to get past their opponents. Meanwhile, Mumbai Knights continued their winning streak by defeating Mata Rukmani FC 1-0 at the Shahibaug Police Stadium. Namita Belsariya’s own goal in the 12th minute was the only goal of the match.