The injury time winner of Kioko Elizabeth sent Kickstart Karnataka to their maiden Indian Women’s League semifinals.
Kickstart had the better opening ten minutes but the first distinguished chance fell to HOPS’ Rajni Bala. Which was the result of Pakpi Devi’s poor attempt at clearing the cross from the left flank. Goalkeeper Maibam Devi somehow got her body on it and gathered the rebound to ensure safety.
In the 17th minute, Sharda’s headed clearance off Soniya Parak’s cross only fell as far as Kaviya Pakkirisamy whose reply went in off the near post. Kickstart maintained the 1-0 lead till the half time whistle.
Maibam struggled with two high crosses in succession which led to two quick chances for the Kickstarts. Minutes later, a lobbed ball behind the defence was caught well by Renu Ravi who took only two touch and a half to equalize for HOPS.
Elizabeth squandered a golden oppurtunity to make it 2-1 in Kickstart’s favour in the 86th minute. She made up for it with a cheeky header nicked into the goal which was too smart for Anshika.
The injury time-goal proved enough for Kickstart to make their own history. Captain Dalima Chhibber was adjudged man of the match.
Eastern Sporting Union a step closer to repeating past glory
Out there in Shahibaug, Eastern Sporting Union defeated Sports Odisha 4-2 in the penalty shootout that followed the 1-1 draw. It didn’t follow the extra time rule because it could have been hazardous to play that long in the heat.
The highlight of the shootout was probably that eight of the nine shots taken were on the goalkeeper’s right. Captain Parmeshwori Devi sealed the shootout for Union.
Sumitra Hembram hustled her way to take a clean shot but she hit it straight to the goalkeeper. ESU had a shot at the half time lead but a brilliant defensive combination play kept the danger out for Sports Odisha.
Just when it looked that ESU have completely lost the control of the game, they scored from a deep set-piece to take the lead. Poonam Devi’s long set-piece found Lhingdeikim who headed in well. It hit goalkeeper Ritu Devi’s before going in.
Ritu’s double save minutes after kept Odisha in the game. The equalizer came in the 80th minute through Manisha Nayak who placed it over the keeper for a brilliant finish.
With seconds of regulation time remaining, Parmeshwori’s right footed corner hit the crossbar to give Sports Odisha a major scare. However, it was taken care of.
Eastern Sporting Union will have to defeat the defending champions Gokulam Kerala in order to reclaim the IWL trophy. Gokulam, too, entered the semis after winning the shootout. Whereas Kickstart FC will face Sethu FC who will be on the back of a thumping 9-0 victory against East Bengal.
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