AFC Cup 2022 | Gokulam Kerala get the better of ATK Mohun Bagan on debut

AFC Cup 2022 | Gokulam Kerala get the better of ATK Mohun Bagan on debut

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Gokulam Kerala FC won their AFC Cup 2022 Group D opening match against ATK Mohun Bagan at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Wednesday with a polished performance. ATK's goals came from Pritam Kotal and Liston Colaco while Luka Majcen, Rishad, and MS Jithin scored to lead Gokulam to a victory.

ATK Mohun Bagan, managed by Juan Ferrando, opened the game comfortably against the I-League champions but failed to take advantage of early opportunities. Prabir Das routinely sent crosses into the box, but ATK Mohun Bagan striker Roy Krishna of Fiji and other ATK Mohun Bagan strikers missed a couple of promising chances.

In the 18th minute, Joni Kauko found Roy Krishna, who dribbled past Gokulam Kerala defenders and beat goalie Rakshit Dagar, only to have his effort strike the goalpost and come out.

Meanwhile, Gokulam Kerala promised to use counter-attacks to penetrate ATK Mohun Bagan's defense. The AFC Cup debutants' lack of finishing in the final third, though, left the scores unchanged at the end of the first half.

Gokulam Kerala launched a torrent of attempts on the ATK Mohun Bagan goal in the second half. In the 50th minute, Vincenzo Alberto Annese's team was eventually rewarded when Luka Majcen converted a ball from Jourdaine Fletcher.

Pritam Kotal of ATK Mohun Bagan assisted in Liston Colaco's corner to restore parity three minutes later. From there, both teams adopted an aggressive strategy, with Gokulam Kerala regaining the lead in the 57th minute. Jourdaine Fletcher provided another great pass, which was nicely tapped in by Rishad to make it 2-1.

With ATK Mohun Bagan pushing players forward in pursuit of an equaliser, Luka Majcen of Gokulam Kerala, the I-League 2021-22 top scorer, took advantage of the space behind the Kolkata backline to make it 3-1.

In the 80th minute, ATK Mohun Bagan striker Liston Colaco scored a brilliant free-kick from well beyond the area to pull his team back into the game, but the Mariners surrendered again.

MS Jithin was discovered inside the box by Luka Majcen's excellent pass in the 89th minute. MS Jithin provided the last blow to secure Gokulam Kerala's first win in the competition, with just goalie Amrinder Singh to beat inside the box.

In their Group D matches on Saturday, Gokulam Kerala will play Maziya SRC of the Maldives, while ATK Mohun Bagan will face Bangladeshi champions Bashundhara Kings. The Salt Lake Stadium will host all of the Group D matches. The victor of Group D will advance to the semi-finals of the inter-zone play-offs.

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