Girona FC gave football lessons to Kerala Blasters as the Spanish top division side thrashed the ISL outfit 5-0 to win the inaugural Toyota Yaris LaLiga World tournament in Kochi on Saturday.
Blasters looked a much-improved side, starting the final fixture with a 4-4-2 formation, and tightening the defence with their wingers sitting deep.
On the other hand, Girona’s strategy was no different from their first game as they looked to attack from the word go.
The home side managed to hold fort till the half hour mark, making all the necessary interceptions and keeping Girona forwards at bay. The Spanish side kept pressing with more possession through the first half, but the defensive formation worked well for David James’ side.
Three minutes before half time, a rare defensive lapse by the Blasters backline led to Eric Montes scoring the first goal of the match, amazingly against the run of play.
The Spanish right back made a run down the right to find the back of the net from a very tight angle.
The second half saw the home team start with three men at the back with Mohammad Rakip and Prasanth K operating as wing-backs.
Girona FC’s midfield kept improving as they played some spectacular one-touch football and created chances. The constant attacking play finally paid off for the La Liga side and the lack of communication between the Blasters goalkeeper Naveen Kumar and defense saw Girona winger Pedro Porro easily push one into the open net to make it 2-0 in the 53rd minute.
Four minutes later, Girona skipper Alex Granell scored the third as Yhoan Many made a superb run down the left to go past Prasanth and cut one in to his unmarked skipper, who made no mistake in putting the ball behind the Kerala goalkeeper.
The Kerala defence, which had a firm command on the game in the first half, was nowhere close to their best in the second. Blasters kept losing possession in the midfield that led to Girona making the counter runs and unsettling the Kerala defence at regular intervals.
In the 61st minute an impressive free-kick from Blasters’ Ghanaian import Courage Pekuson almost them their first goal, but for a brilliant save by Girona’s goalkeeper.
It was business as usual then as Aday Benitez’s left footer took Blasters’ defenders deflection to find the back of the net in the 73rd minute. Kerala goalkeeper could hardly do anything with the slight deflection.
To add to the home team’s woes, Blasters conceded a penalty in the added time. Aleix Garcia smartly placed the ball into the bottom right corner.
“Playing against a team that features in the top 3 leagues of the world is in itself a big feat. We managed to keep things pretty tight in the first half, the final score line definitely doesn’t suggest the same but I think we looked a much improved side today from the first match,” Blasters coach David James said.
Blasters were drubbed 6-0 by A-League side Melbourne City FC in the tournament opener.
“There are a lot of positives that we take from this tournament, we have a long preseason coming up ahead of us and with some fantastic young players in the squad I think we will be a force to reckon with once the ISL season begins,” added James.
Eusebio Sacritsan, manager of Girona FC, who stunned Real Madrid in the last season, said, “I am happy with the way we have kick started our pre-season, we focused on the technical aspects and have been training hard from the past three weeks.
“This tournament was a learning experience for us as we got to play in a completely different weather from what we usually play, the crowd was fantastic and I would like to congratulate all the people who turned out for our matches.
Chennai, Jul 28 (PTI) Former East Bengal midfielder Kalia Kulothungan was today killed in a road accident in his hometown Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu.
It is learnt that around 2 am today, Kulothungan’s bike crashed against an iron fence and he died on the spot. He was 40.
A talented central midfielder who also played as a winger, ‘Kulo’, as he was fondly referred to in Kolkata Maidan circuit, was best known for his three-year stint at East Bengal from 2002 to 2005.
He was a part of East Bengal’s ASEAN Cup winning side in 2003 and was also a member of the squad that won back-to-back I-League (NFL) titles.
He later played two seasons for Mohammedan Sporting and Mohun Bagan apart from Mumbai FC and Viva Kerala.
However, post his stint with East Bengal, he was never the same player as his form dipped and he wasn’t able to settle down in any club.
He was one of the better footballers to have come from Tamil Nadu and also captained the state in Santosh Trophy. He last played competitive football in the second division I-League for Bhowanipore Club.
India captain Sunil Chhetri, who had played a lot against and a few matches with Kulo, expressed his shock.
“Really upsetting to hear about the passing away of Kalia Kulothungan. He was one of the best ball players I’ve played alongside. Let’s never take life for granted,” Chhetri wrote on his twitter page.
Former India and Kerala Blasters striker C K Vineeth also sent his condolences.
“Extremely upsetting to hear about Kalia Kulothungan – he was taken too soon from all of us. Rest in peace, Anna. You will be missed,” Vineeth tweeted.
Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting club also sent their condolence messages.
“We are deeply saddened with the news of the sudden demise of our club ex-football Player Kalia Kulothungan due to a road accident.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the bereaved family. We pray to almighty to bestow his family members solace and courage to fight from this untimely and irreparable loss. May his soul rest in peace,” Mohun Bagan secretary Anjan Mitra said.