Srinagar: Super-sub Ibrahim Nurudeen’s brace helped Real Kashmir beat Sreenidi Deccan 2-1 in a sixth-round tie of the I-League 2022-23 at the TRC Stadium and continue their unbeaten run in the tournament, here on Tuesday.
After trailing until the hour mark through Asheer Akhtar’s early goal for Sreenidi Deccan, the Snow Leopards completed a sensational comeback in the final minute of the game thanks to substitute striker Nurudeen’s two goals.
Real Kashmir began the first half on an attacking note. Three minutes in, Jerry Pulamte received the ball on the left wing before cutting inside and beating his marker to shoot, but the Sreenidi custodian Aryan Lamba made a fine save at the expense of a corner. The resultant corner reached Yakubu Wadudu after the visitors’ sloppy attempt to clear the ball but Lamba closed him down to cut any threat.
Somewhat against the run of play, Sreenidi Deccan took the lead in the 12th minute after a well-worked corner-kick taken by Faysal Shayesteh was flicked onto the far post by the captain David Castaneda. It found Asheer Akhtar, who volleyed it into an open net.
Real Kashmir pushed hard for the equaliser and went close to scoring in the 26th minute. Set-piece specialist Nozim Babadzhanov laid his corner for Lalnuntluanga Bawitlung on the edge of the penalty area but the midfielder skied his shot above the bar.
Eight minutes from halftime, Real Kashmir went close again, this time with the striker Issahak Nuhu Seidu. Samuel Kynshi launched a cross from the left wing for the Ghanaian in the six-yard box, however, having beaten Sreenidi defender Awal Mohammed in the air, Nuhu put his header just off target.
Real Kashmir began the second half just like they ended the first one. Ibrahim Nurudeen, who had made a positive impact from the bench in his previous outing, was brought into the game for Nuhu. The Ghanaian substitute went close with his first touch in the 51st minute, his header from Babadzhanov’s corner going just wide of the post.
Five minutes later, Nurudeen was again in the thick of things as he found himself with ample space in the Sreenidi half. The striker then pulled the trigger from over 25 yards out but his powerful shot was tipped over the bar by the visiting goalkeeper Lamba.
At the hour mark, Real Kashmir received a penalty kick. Pulamte’s shot from inside the box was handled by Sreenidi defender Awal in his attempt to block the effort. Nurudeen stepped up to take the penalty, sending Lamba the wrong way to bag the equaliser for the hosts.
In the first minute of the add-on injury time, Sreenidi Deccan received a golden opportunity to regain the lead. Substitute Songpu Singsit raced forward on the right wing before cutting the ball back for his fellow substitute Louis Ogana. But the Nigerian, who had the goal gaping in front of him, could only fire wide from six yards out.
The drama was far from over though as Ibrahim Nurudeen won it for Real Kashmir right at the death. Wadudu sent a chipped ball for the striker in the box, who unleashed a sensational half-volley into the top corner, leaving Lamba with no chance in the Sreenidi Deccan goal.
Following the result, Real Kashmir extended their lead at the top of the table with 16 points from six matches. On the other hand, a run of four consecutive victories comes to an end for Sreenidi Deccan who now have 12 points from six games as well.