Chennaiyin FC edge Kerala Blasters FC in tempestuous match

Bernard Mendy

Chennaiyin FC edged Kerala Blasters FC 2-1 in a thrilling and tempestuous Hero Indian Super League (ISL) match at Chennai's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. They shoot up to second in the league, with six points, while Kerala occupy the bottom spot and are yet to record a point. Elano's 12th-minute penalty gave the home side the lead, before Iain Hume smashed in a 50th-minute equalizer to make things interesting. Bernard Mendy, however, stunned everyone with a spectacular 63rd-minute overhead kick for the match-winner.

The game got off to a rollicking start as Abhishek Das charged into the Kerala box in the very first minute and put an inviting cross in for Balwant Singh, who dived and headed the ball just wide of the target. The home side kept possession for a brief while and managed to take the lead through an Elano penalty as Gurwinder Singh put in a reckless challenge on Das. He was lucky not to receive a second yellow for the challenge, after having been booked a few minutes earlier.

Kerala began to get more and more into the game as the half progressed. The visitors had numerous chances to equalise but their finishing let them down. They came close when a 25th-minute shot from Sabeeth, after a clever turn in the box, hit the woodwork. Towards the end of the half, Sandesh Jhingan jinked into the box and put in a superb low cross, but Sabeeth attempted a back flick and completely missed the ball.

The second half also began on a rousing note as both sides pushed forward. The reward for Kerala's incessant pressure came when Nirmal Chettri knocked down a cushioned header from Victor Forcada's corner into the path of Hume, who promptly smashed it home from close range to level the scores. Thirteen minutes later, however, Chennaiyin were back in front on account of an absolute stunner from Hero of the Match Mendy. Elano's free kick was headed in the air in the box, and Mendy smashed in an unstoppable overhead kick to stun David James under the Kerala bar.

The visitors pushed forward in search of an equaliser again, and piled on the pressure in the latter stages of the match, but the Chennaiyin defence stood firm to seal the victory.

Kerala will make a sustained effort after coming back empty-handed from their opening two games and will hope to open their account when they face current league leaders Atlético de Kolkata at the Salt Lake Stadium on October 26. Chennai will play Delhi Dynamos in Delhi a day earlier, and may find themselves on the top of the table if they win in that fixture. 

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