Goa score in added time to deny Kerala much-needed win

Kerala Blasters FC’s wait for their second win of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 continued as a 10-man FC Goa side scored in added time to hold them to a 2-2 draw at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi. The point takes Kerala up to the eighth position with five points from six matches. The Gaurs, meanwhile, moved into the top four with nine points.

Kerala raced off the blocks and took the lead 61 seconds in. Fall’s weak clearance from a long throw fell for Cidoncha, who took it on first time. The volley eluded Goa goalkeeper Mohammad Nawaz and nestled into the net.

The early goal provided Kerala with a spring in their steps as the home team stamped their authority on the match. Kerala could have increased their lead in the 23rd minute as Raphael Messi Bouli found himself with room inside the Goa box. The striker tried to place it inside the far corner with the outside of his foot but missed his mark.

Goa created a rare opportunity for themselves three minutes later. Left back Saviour Gama bombed down the flank and found Brandon Fernandes inside the Kerala box. The midfielder, however, couldn’t quite control the pass at full stretch.

Kerala, on the other hand, kept knocking for the second goal. Bartholomew Ogbeche almost set Bouli up with brilliant cross in the 36th minute but Gama got a vital touch to deny the Cameroonian a potential throw in.

Edu Bedia almost made it 1-1 on the 39th minute from a free kick. The Spaniard’s effort hit the post much to the relief of the Kerala defence, which, though, lasted barely seconds. Jackichand Singh recycled the ball and sent it back into the Kerala box, where Mourtada Fall was at hand to bury a towering header past TP Rehenesh to draw the Gaurs level.

Ogbeche tested Nawaz with a stinging shot in the dying seconds of the first-half but the Goa custodian was up for the challenge as the half-time whistle sounded with the score reading 1-1.

Seven minutes after the restart, Gaurs faced a massive setback as Fall was shown a red card after a last man challenge on Ogbeche, who seemed through on goal. Kerala took little time making the extra man count and took the lead courtesy Bouli just before the hour mark.

Soon after, Ogbeche squandered a golden opportunity to get himself on the scoresheet. Mohamed Rakip found the Kerala captain unmarked inside the Goa box but the striker couldn’t hit the target from close range. Kerala were the dominant side till the 90th minute but failed to make the most of their chances. The one time Bouli managed to turn the ball inside the net, it was ruled offside.

Just when it seemed like Kerala may have done just enough to secure their second victory of the season and the first since the opening day, Goa managed to claw their back in added time. Manvir Singh twisted, turned and got his shot off, which was saved by Rehenesh. Lenny Rodrigues, however, was in the right place at the right time to slot home the rebound and rescue a point for Goa.

Hero of the Match – Lenny Rodrigues

With Goa having to play a large chunk of the second-half with a man down, Lenny Rodrigues’ role as the team’s defensive screen became a crucial one and he performed his duties with utmost diligence. The holding midfielder also popped up with the crucial late equaliser to earn the Gaurs a point and himself the Hero of the Match award.

AWARDS

Club Award – Kerala Blasters FC and FC Goa

Maruti Suzuki Limitless Player of the Match – Raphael Messi Bouli

DHL Winning Pass of the Match – Prasanth K

ISL Emerging Player of the Match – Mohamad Rakip

Hero of the Match – Lenny Rodrigues

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