Thrilling southern derby in Kochi ends goalless

Kerala Blasters FC and Chennaiyin FC played out an entertaining 0 – 0 draw in Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Friday. The football was free-flowing to begin with, as both teams started on the attack.

Chennaiyin FC fashioned their first chance on target in the 4th minute when Rene Mihelic found Raphael Augusto with his pass, and the Brazilian took a touch before firing on goal. But the shot was straight at Kerala custodian Paul Rachubka, who gathered.

Seven minutes later, Jackichand Singh latched on to a loose ball and surged forward before cutting in and shooting on goal. Chennaiyin keeper Karanjit Singh though made a smart, low save to keep it goalless. Courage Pekuson was next to try his luck when in the 13th minute he let fly from outside the box. Karanjit made the save, and the rebound fell for CK Vineeth, whose wild swing completely missed the ball.

The hosts went agonizingly close to taking the lead on the half-hour mark. Karanjit punched the ball away from a corner, but it came straight to Berbatov who struck a sweet first-time volley. Dhanpal Ganesh, however, managed to get a vital deflection to steer the ball away from the target.

Then right on the stroke of half-time, the visitors missed the best chance of the opening period. Jeje Lalpekhlua played a lovely give-and-go with Mihelic to put himself through on goal. However, with just the keeper to beat, Chennaiyin’s top-scorer shot wide of the target.

Seven minutes after the restart, Kerala had a great chance to break the deadlock. Gudjon Baldvinsson dribbled his way into the box before being brought down by Jerry Lalrinzuala, prompting the referee to point to the spot. Courage Pekuson took the penalty, but his spot-kick was a weak one, allowing Karanjit to make the save while diving to his right.

Then with a quarter of an hour to play, each team fashioned a great chance at either end. First, Baldvinsson’s first-time shot from Jackichand’s pass was well saved by Karanjit, and Vineeth, facing an empty net, missed the rebound. From the counter, Raphael Augusto played a pass to Jaime Gavilan who hit a powerful shot on target that took a deflection off Sandesh Jhingan. However, Rachubka made a great reflex save to keep things level.

With 82 minutes on the clock, Baldvinsson was at it again when he put his laces through a volley from Wes Brown’s headed lay-off. However, Karanjit made a stunning save with his fingers to tip the ball over the bar.

Two minutes into added time Chennaiyin came agonizingly close to scoring. Gregory Nelson turned his marker in the box and unleashed a shot on goal with his left foot. Rachubka though managed to get his finger-tips to the shot, which resulted in the ball coming off the post as it ended all square after 90 minutes.

MATCH AWARDS

Club Award: Kerala Blasters FC and Chennaiyin FC

Swift Limitless Player: Karanjit Singh

DHL Winning Pass of the Match: Rene Mihelic

Amul Fittest Player: Henrique Sereno

Emerging Player: Laruatthara

Hero of the Match: Karanjit Singh

Watch the match highlights here:

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