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I-League Qualifiers 2021: Delhi FC defeat Kenkre, Kerala United beat ARA on the group stage final day

AIFF Media Team

I-League Qualifiers 2021 ARA FC vs Kerala United FC
I-League Qualifiers 2021 ARA FC vs Kerala United FC | Source: AIFF Media

Bengaluru: Kerala United ended their campaign at the Hero I-League Qualifiers with a memorable 3-1 win against ARA FC at Bengaluru on Thursday. The goals were scored by Francis Uchenna Nwankwo and Hafis Alakkaparamba, while Sufiyan Shaikh scored a goal for ARA FC.

ARA FC had the first opportunity to score in the game. They were awarded a corner in the 6th minute, but Kerala United defenders did well to clear the ball.

ARA FC controlled possession and looked to hold sway in the first 15 minutes but could not convert. In the 22nd minute, Dieye Hamiddu created a chance in the box when he beat defender Gabriel to take a shot, but his attempt trickled far off the post.

After a cooling break in the 30th minute, Kerala United came with an improvised attack to pressurise the ARA FC defence. Francis found space in the box after a good move by his team, but his firmly struck shot from a tight angle crashed into the side netting.

The best goal-scoring opportunity came in the 39th minute when ARA FC man Hamiddu created space for himself inside the box. Excellent footwork gave him time to position himself perfectly to take the strike, but his shot went over the bar.

Both teams went into halftime in a 0-0 stalemate. Kerala United’s experienced head coach Binu George used this time to change the strategy. The halftime team-talk worked to perfection as in the 46th minute, Francis put the ball into the net after beating a couple of ARA FC defenders. It was a much-needed goal for Kerala United.

They built on this momentum to strike again in the 51st minute when Francis latched onto a mistake by the ARA FC defenders. The second goal put Kerala United in good stead to finish the game. Jesin then created another goal-scoring opportunity for Kerala United in the 58th minute, but he squandered the chance. However, his team continued to work with a good structure, fine passing and gunned for space in the midfield to surge ahead.

ARA FC meanwhile looked dangerous in the closing minutes of the game when they first pulled a goal through Sufiyan Shaikh in the 83rd minute. Sufiyan could have equalised in the 86th minute, but his shot went wide. In stoppage time, though, Kerala United finished the proceedings with a splendid goal by Hafis. That ended Kerala United’s campaign in the Qualifiers with a fine 3-1 win and three points in their kitty,

This match report was originally published on I-League’s website.

I-League Qualifiers 2021 Kenkre FC vs Delhi FC
I-League Qualifiers 2021 Kenkre FC vs Delhi FC | Source: AIFF Media

BENGALURU: Delhi FC made it four wins from as many matches with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Kenkre FC in the Hero I-League Qualifiers 2021 at the Bangalore Football Stadium in Bengaluru on Thursday (October 14, 2021). A 1st minute goal from Laiwang Bohham sealed the deal for Delhi FC as they overcame their rivals from Maharashtra who will be joining them in the final round of the Qualifiers. The final round is set to be contested in a round robin format between Delhi FC, Kenkre FC, Madan Maharaj FC and Rajasthan United FC from October 18 (Monday) onwards.

With both sides having already qualified for the final round before the match got underway, neither side was willing to field their strongest lineup as both Delhi FC and Kenkre FC made seven changes each to their starting lineup from their respective last matches.

Delhi FC got their breakthrough in the very first minute of the match owing to their high press as they capitalised on an under hit pass from Kenkre FC to swarm their penalty box. After Fahad Temuri received the ball with his back to goal near the six-yard box, he swivelled and took on a shot which was brilliantly touched onto the frame of the goal by Kenkre goalkeeper Bishorjit Singh. The ball rebounded back into play and Laiwang Bohham was the quickest to react as he volleyed the ball into the unguarded net to register his second goal in this year’s Qualifiers.

Delhi FC made a fast start to the game and had their next sight of goal in the 5th minute. Simranjeet Singh. He received the ball from a short corner and dribbled towards the edge of the box to create a shooting opportunity for himself. Although his shot did not lack any power, it was directed towards the near post at a comfortable height for the goalkeeper as Bishorjit Singh grabbed the ball with both hands.

For the remainder of the first half, the momentum in the game swung both ways, but neither team was able to gain the upper hand or create a clear cut goal scoring chance. Going into half time, Delhi FC controlled more of the ball with 63% possession compared to Kenkre FC’s 37%.

Kenkre FC began to grow into the game ten minutes into the second half, and should have made more of a promising attacking situation in the 60th minute. After winning the ball from Delhi FC in their own half, Kenkre FC produced a fast break away that led to a 3v1 situation for them in attack. But their skipper Yash Mhatre’s shot did not test Delhi goalkeeper Suraj Mallick.

With Kenkre FC beginning to threaten the slender one goal advantage, Delhi FC made a string of substitutions in the following minutes, bringing on their prominent players in Nikhil Mali, Willis Plaza and Anwar Ali. However, Kenkre FC were presented with another route back into the game in the 82nd minute when Delhi FC club captain Anwar Ali was sent off with a straight red card for a foul on goalkeeper Bishorjit Singh. The dismissal means that Delhi FC’s lynchpin in defence will miss at least the first match in the final round.

With their one-man advantage for the remainder of the game, Kenkre FC saw more of the ball in the final third, but could not breach their opposition defence.

Following the result, Delhi FC end their group stage campaign at the top with 12 points whereas Kenkre wrap up with seven.

This match report was originally published on I-League’s website.

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