Delhi FC 3 (28’ Fahad Temuri, 36’ Sergio Barboza, Radhakanta Singh 59’)
ARA FC 0
BENGALURU: Delhi FC began their Hero I-League Qualifiers 2021 campaign with a resounding 3-0 win against ARA FC from Gujarat. The team from the capital put on a dominant display in their search for all three points from their first Group B match. Fahad Temuri, Sergio Barboza and Radhakanta Singh got on the scoresheet for Delhi FC. The match leaves ARA FC winless from their first two matches in the competition, having drawn their first match 1-1 against Corbett FC.
Delhi FC remained comfortable from start to finish in the match as they continued to play at a high level, as seen in their Durand Cup campaign over the last few weeks. ARA FC began the match trying to pose questions of the Delhi FC defence, but Delhi had all the answers to sustain the pressure. Delhi FC were led ably by their captain Anwar Ali, who displayed a leader’s performance as he dealt not only with defensive dangers, but also showcased his passing range as he frequently initiated the team’s plays from the back.
The first chance of the match broke out for Sergio Barboza from Delhi FC, who got hold of the second ball after ARA FC goalkeeper Sukhadev parried away a cross into the box. Barboza got into a promising position, but could not control his volley as he shot off target.
The next big chance of the match fell ARA FC’s way in the 20th minute, when Delhi FC gave away the ball casually in a dangerous part of the pitch. Bala Alhassan played striker Dieye Hamidou through on goal with plenty of time from him to find the finish, but he dallied on the ball and allowed defender Anwar Ali to make a fantastic recovery with a goal saving tackle.
The first goal of the match came in the 28th minute, when Fahad Temuri exchanged a quick one-two with Nikhil Mali before making space for himself to take a shot on goal. He scored with a hit that rifled into the high part of the net.
Delhi doubled their advantage eight minutes later through Sergio Barboza. Barboza received the ball a long way from goal, but he took off on a bullish run leaving his marker behind to find himself a yard to shoot from a central position. He did just that as he unleashed a powerful low drive which the goalkeeper could have dealt with on another day, but was unable to on this occasion.
There was a chance for ARA FC to get one goal back on the stroke of half time, as Hamidou made the most of a scrappy situation to get a shot away, but goalkeeper James Kithan produced a save from point blank range to deny the striker.
Overall, Delhi FC merited their two goal lead at half time and came back to produce more of the same on the other side of the half. Delhi FC controlled the tempo of the game, and individual players in Himanshu Jangra, Nikhil Mali and Shaiza all made an impression. They added to their lead with a third and final goal of the match when Radhakanta Singh came on as a substitute to make an instant impact, scoring with a first touch lob over 30 yards from goal as he latched on to a bad clearance from the opposition goalkeeper. The substitute scored one of the finest goals of the Hero I-League Qualifiers so far.
The loss means that ARA FC remain winless in their first two games, while Delhi FC reach the top of Group B on goal difference.
Kerala United -2 (Hafis Alakkaparamba Mohammedali 41’ , Jesin TK Thonikkara 83’)
BENGALURU: After a disappointing show in their opening match at the ongoing Hero I-League Qualifiers here in Bengaluru, Kerala United FC put up a valiant performance to bring home three points from an exciting encounter against Corbett FC. On a sunny Thursday afternoon at the Bangalore Football Stadium, Kerala United dominated the proceedings to win 2-0. It was Hafis Alakkaparamba Mohammedali who scored the first goal for Kerala United in the 41st minute while substitute Jesin TK Thonikkara scored the team’s second goal in the 83rd minute that ensured their team will stay in the hunt for a knockout berth in the league.
The team ably led by Arjun Jayaraj was on top of their game right from the start. Although both teams took some time to settle into the game, they picked up pace after the initial 30 minutes of play. The turning point for Kerala United came in the 41st minute when they brought on clever play with a clinical and disciplined attack that resulted in a goal. While Corbett FC created some fine chances in the 23nd minute when striker Himanshu Patil set up John Chidi with a cross pass but unfortunately Chidi couldn’t capitalise. However, Kerala United under the tutelage of experienced Head Coach Bino George made no such mistake.
It was the brilliance of skipper Arjun Jayaraj who made a quick run-in from the middle, beat the Corbett FC defenders to assist Bujair Valiyattu who in-turn made an excellent judgement to find Hafis Alakkaparamba Mohammedali. Hafis was bang on target with a powerful strike fetching Kerala United the much-needed 1-0 lead in the 41st minute.
After the half time mark, Corbett FC found a great opportunity to equalize in the 78th minute when a good assist from striker Himanshu Patil to Sunil Lohar was brilliantly saved by Kerala goalkeeper Midhun V. While the new comers rued the missed opportunities, Kerala United wasted no time in pushing for yet another goal to consolidate their lead.
The moment arrived in the 83rd minute when substitute Jesin TK Thonikkara struck a fine goal after Athul Unnikrishnan intercepted the ball from Corbett FC’s Sunil in the midfield and in a counter attack which lead to a brilliant goal.
The 2-0 lead in the 83rd minute sealed the match for Kerala United who went on to defend the goal with all their heart. After the disappointment of their first game where they lose 1-2 to Kenkre FC in a hard-fought encounter, Kerala United head coach George would be a happy man to romp home with the winning points to keep their hopes alive in Pool B.
Meanwhile, Corbett FC will need to rework their strategy to bounce back in the league as they remain winless from their first two games in the Pool stage.