Iain Hume powers Kerala Blasters into the semis
Iain Hume’s superb 23rd minute strike from a free kick helped Kerala Blasters FC to edge past FC Pune City and enter the semi-finals of the inaugural edition of the Hero Indian Super League with a nervy 1-0 victory.
The home side were on the back foot for major periods of the game as the visitors played with more attacking intent. Kerala survived a scare early on when Jermaine Pennant received the ball on the left and drilled a low cross across the box which evaded the defence and Dudu Omagbemi who failed to tap it in. However, Kerala went ahead when Hume stepped up to take a free kick on the right and curled it brilliantly past the wall and goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya for what would prove to be the matchwinner.
Following the goal, it was Pune City all the way as they pushed forward constantly in search of the equaliser. Dudu was guilty of missing a few half chances as Franco Colomba’s men attacked with purpose. Sandip Nandy in the Kerala goal also came to the rescue time and again to keep his side afloat.
The home side were more dominant in the opening exchanges of the second period. Hume could have doubled the lead after dancing his way through the defence and then toe poking straight at the rival goalkeeper. Milagres Gonsalves also missed a good chance to make it 2-0 after Arindam Bhattacharya couldn’t collect a long ball. The Goan striker somehow skied the loose ball with an open goal in front of him. Thereafter, Pune began to get their act together. Kostas Katsouranis was a constant threat to the Kerala goal. There was even a controversial moment at the end when a long ball was sent into the box for Dudu who trapped it and looked to lob Nandy but pulled back and appealed for a hand ball against Cedric Hengbart which wasn’t given.
Pune continued to push ahead through eight minutes of added time and substitute David Trezeguet had the chance of the match when an excellent ball fell to his feet but was denied by Nandy who got down low to keep his side in the competition. Kerala soaked up the pressure and held on for a famous win.
The win takes Kerala up to third spot with 19 points and they qualify for the semi-finals. Pune on the other hand exit the competition with 16 points after their heart-breaking loss.
Hero of the Match: Iain Hume (Kerala Blasters FC) (Watch here)
Swift Moment of the Match: Sandip Nandy (Kerala Blaster FC)
Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Stephen Pearson (Kerala Blasters FC)
ISL Emerging Player of the Match:Manish Maithani (FC Pune City)