Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic was pleased that his side recorded a clean sheet as they beat NorthEast United 2-0 in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Kochi, on Sunday.

Dimitrios Diamantakos’ brace in the first half sealed the three points for Kerala Blasters FC, helping them return to winning ways and climb to the third spot in the Hero ISL standings. The win against the Highlanders also meant that the Blasters recorded their fifth straight win at home in Kochi.

Vukomanovic was pleased after his side clinched their fifth clean sheet of the season, but felt the hosts could have managed the second half better. 

"There’s a mental aspect in how you have to manage these kind of games.. and in these kind of games, if you don’t score quick enough, the opponent starts believing more. They get more power, more concentration and more time passes, you find yourself in trouble and have to push harder. The more you have to open the game and then you can get punished at the back. In the first half, we wanted to push hard and create chances which we did. We created many chances to score more goals,” Vukomanovic said in the post-match press conference.

He added: “The boys in the second half wanted to push more and score the third goal and make the game over and manage it. However, we were not capable of scoring the third goal despite some chances. And then, we entered a nervous period where you try to have fun and do nice things which are not efficient. We lost balls in dangerous positions and invited counter attacks. That made me frustrated, because as a coach I want (my players) to be efficient and get the job done. These kind of things were different. The players need to manage the situations - get the game under control, get the ball under control, try to open the gaps and create chances. At the end, we are happy with a clean sheet because it’s been a while. We’re back on the third spot and have five big steps to go.”

Diamantakos led from the front for Kerala Blasters FC, scoring two goals late into the first half that deflated NorthEast United FC’s morale going into the break.

The Greek striker is currently KBFC’s leading goalscorer this season with nine goals to his name and has the most goal contributions for the Blasters (12) this season. Vukomanovic heaped praise on the striker and mentioned he was an asset to the team.

“For a striker, it’s important to score goals. When they score goals, they get that confidence. Players like Dimi (Diamantakos) are big professionals. He has nice clubs on his CV. He has played for one of the best clubs in his home country, he has played for some good clubs in Germany. These kind of players bring extra quality. I'm glad to have these kind of players, even last season (like Alvaro Vazquez and Jorge Diaz) and this season, because they are hungry to succeed and score goals. When we are scouting, we look for these kind of profiles (like Diamantakos,” Vukomanovic stated.

The Blasters will hope to build on this win as they take on East Bengal FC in their next challenge in Kolkata.