Bengaluru: Gokulam Kerala continued their formidable form and booked their place in the Indian Women's League (IWL) 2019-20 semi-finals with a game to spare after a Yumnam Kamala Devi hat-trick helped them overcome Bangalore United FC 5-1 on Tuesday, February 4 at the Bangalore Football Stadium.
The result also means BUFC are officially out of the race to the semi-finals as they needed a win on Tuesday to have any chance of progressing going into the final set of group fixtures.
The locals got off to a poor start and fell behind after just three minutes. Centre-back Komal Kumari made a horribly wrong move as she arrived at the left of the post for defence but ended up turning an intended pass into the back of her own net.
BUFC responded quickly, however, and just two minutes later, Satyabati Khadia latched onto a cross-field delivery from Purnima Rao to score. With Aditi Chauhan caught way off her line, Khadia went for a clinical lob over the Gokulam keeper and got BUFC level.
Thereafter, BUFC deployed the 'Park the Bus' strategy that Sreebhumi had executed against Gokulam and survived a barrage of attacks to go into the break with a 1-1 scoreline.
However, the second half did not bode well for the home team as just 25 seconds into the resumption, Gokulam's talisman Sabitra Bhandari scored a brilliant header past Vinaya Seshan to hand her side the lead again.
Kashmina delivered a brilliant cross over the BUFC defence towards the left of the goal and while the BUFC defence tried to get to it and the keeper Vinaya Seshan also came off her line to cover her near post, Manisha lobbed the ball in the middle towards Sabitra, who connected with the ball perfectly to head it into the back of the net.
In the 51st minute, Kamala Devi made it 3-1 for Gokulam after rounding off the keeper in a one-on-one situation before Komal's reckless challenge on Sabitra earned the Malabarians a penalty. Kamala stepped up, completely outfoxed Seshan and scored the goal with the keeper rooted to her spot.
Such was the confidence of Gokulam that defender Supriya Routray went for an outrageous shot from about 35 yards out and was only stopped by the crossbar.
The rampage was sealed in the third minute of stoppage time, when Kamala glided past three defenders to complete her hat-trick in style.