Kerala Blasters go down by solitary goal in Guwahati

Sergio Contreras Pardo

Sergio Contreras Pardo, otherwise known as Koke, scored the only goal of the match in first half stoppage time to power NorthEast United FC to a solitary goal win over Kerala Blasters FC in a tightly contested second game of the Hero Indian Super League at the Indira Gandhi Stadium here tonight.

The Spanish midfielder took advantage of a poor clearance by the Kerala defenders, rushing onto the ball and putting it past former England goalkeeper David James in the far left corner with a sweetly timed half-volleyed effort. This is the third goal in the tournament scored by a Spanish player.

Kerala Blasters came out with intent as they looked to take control of the match at the start. Joan Capdevila gave away a free kick as early as the first minute. The men in yellow pushed forward positively and had the lion's share of the possession. Kerala even had the ball in the back of the net in the 16th minute, but Iain Hume was denied by the offside flag.

NorthEast United FC’s former Greece international goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas stood as firm as a rock in front of his goal and refused to be beaten. He was deservingly voted ‘Hero of the match’. He did commit a mistake with a scuffed goal kick and was also lucky that a low shot by substitute Michael Chopra was saved by his defender on the goal line.

The match didn’t see too much happening in the first half, apart from a few tame attempts from both sides. Durga Boro got everyone out of their seats with an incredible long range effort, only to be denied by James with a fantastic save.  

Boro was replaced in the 62nd minute by Milan Singh, seemingly with a niggle, and minutes later Kerala made two substitutions in quick succession to hopefully force something out of the game. The conditions took its toll on the players towards the final quarter of the game, with players calling halts and cramping up.

The home side were content to sit back and play on the counter through Korean substitute Do Dong-Hyun could have put the game to bed but skied a shot from a few yards out with an open goal in front of him. Kerala left-back Jamie McAllister was the only played booked by referee Pratap Singh.

NorthEast United FC host Atletico de Kolkata at home on October 16 while Kerala Blasters FC hope to revive their campaign when they take on Chennaiyin FC in the Tamil Nadu capital on October 21.

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