Gokulam Kerala FC came from two goals down and found the net thrice in the second half to earn a remarkable I-League 2020-21 comeback 4-3 win against RoundGlass Punjab FC at the VYBK Stadium in Kolkata, West Bengal on Thursday (January 14, 2021). In a tale of two halves, the first belonged to RoundGlass Punjab FC. Chencho Gyeltshen’s quick-fire brace and a goal by Rupert Nongrum failed to safeguard Punjab’s lead as a second-half comeback by Gokulam Kerala FC cut short Punjab’s euphoria. A brace by Dennis Antwi and an own goal by Anwar Ali in the second half led the Kerala outfit to register a remarkable win.
In the 3rd minute, Gokulam Kerala FC were handed a golden opportunity to take the lead when a cross from Mayakkannan found Sharif Mohammad inside the box. Off a free-header and with only the keeper to beat, the Afghan International headed it wide of goal. Lalromawaia missed a sitter in the 11th minute when his shot earned an uncanny save from Kiran Limbu. From the resulting ball, the midfield slotted into the side netting.
Despite Gokulam’s chances and domination of possession, it was RoundGlass Punjab’s clinically which earned them the plaudits. In the 17th minute, Chencho was slyly found by a cushioned header inside the box, from a freekick, and the Bhutanese International slotted into the bottom corner to give Punjab the lead. Chencho had an opportunity to double the lead three minutes, but with only the goalkeeper to beat he shot over the bar.
Gokulam Kerala FC were denied their best opportunity of the match courtesy of Kiran Limbu’s world-class save in the 24th minute. Limbu made a miraculous save from a Philip Adjah tap-in after he was found by a low cross by Dennis Antwi. Gokulam’s loss was Punjab’s gain. Off the resulting corner, Sanju Pradhan stole possession and ran towards goal. With Chencho alongside him, Pradhan played a quick pass to the Bhutanese forward as he slotted home the first time to double RoundGlass Punjab’s lead.
Philip Adjah reduced the deficit for Gokulam Kerala FC in the 26th minute when his outside of the boot shot left Kiran Limbu bewildered. The writing on the wall came in the 44th minute for Gokulam Kerala FC. Chencho ran towards goal and set up an onrushing Rupert Nongrum who slotted it past a hapless goalkeeper to make it 3-1 for RoundGlass Punjab FC.
With the Punjab outfit taking a solid two-goal lead, the second half became a mere formality as Curtis Fleming’s team committed bodies in defence to see out the match. Despite that, Gokulam Kerala FC tried to breach the citadel and eventually organized a massive comeback to win the match.
Kiran Limbu came to the rescue for RoundGlass Punjab in the 53rd minute when he saved a penalty kick from Dennis Antwi after he was brought down inside the box. With the Nepalese International in sensational form, it seemed no shot could get past him. In the 60th minute, Limbu once again put a strong hand to deny Philip Adjah’s rocket of a shot from the edge of the box.
RoundGlass Punjab FC made two defensive changes shortly after, bringing Anwar Ali and Bikash Yumnam for Ashray Bhardwaj and Sanju Pradhan respectively. In the 70th minute, Dennis Antwi headed home from close range off a Deepak Devrani free-kick to reduce Gokulam’s deficit to one goal. The spurred comeback was complete in the 72nd minute when Dennis Antwi used his physical prowess to latch onto a long ball, unleashing a half-volley that crashed into the back of the net as the scoreline read 3-3.
But there was even more on the cards. Three minutes later Anwar Ali scored an own goal after he headed the ball into his net to hand Gokulam the lead. Gokulam did not relent and tried to even double their lead. In the 86th minute, Dennis Antwi failed to find the net after he was released onto goal. With only Limbu to beat, Antwi shot straight at him forcing the Nepalese into an easy save.
Gokulam held on to their slender lead and saw off the match, picking up a remarkable 4-3 comeback win.