Kerala Blasters FC start home campaign with win against FC Goa
FC Goa found themselves on the wrong end of a 1-0 scoreline against Kerala Blasters FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi today. A 64th minute goal by substitute Milagres Gonsalves proved to be the matchwinner against the team from his native state and helped the hosts begin their home campaign with a win.
It was a rather uneventful first half with both sides playing cautiously from the back. The visitors were quickly off the block as they tried to take control of the match early on. Robert Pirès was drafted straight back into the starting line-up in place of the injured André Santos. Goa kept possession for longer periods than their hosts but weren't able to fashion a decent goal scoring chance. Penn Orji was central to the Kerala cause as he broke up the Goa attack time and again. The closest either side came to a goal was right at the stroke of half time when Kerala forward CS Sabeeth found himself with only goalkeeper Jan Seda to beat but hit his effort onto the crossbar.
The hosts came out on top in the second half as they pushed for a goal. But it was Goa who came close to scoring. A cross from the left found Jewel Raja unmarked in the rival box but the ball was blasted out of play by an onrushing defender. The resulting corner found the head of an unmarked Youness Bengelloun whose header went wide of the post.
Thereafter, it was a Kerala show as they bombed forward continuously. The persistence of the south Indian team finally paid off when Andrew Barisic, who came on as a second half substitute, put a ball across the box for an unmarked Gonsalves who easily tapped it into an empty net. Kerala managed to hold on to their lead till the final whistle to a raucous reception from the home crowd.
Goa, who remain rooted to the bottom of the table with four points, return home for a match against Mumbai City FC on November 9. Kerala will want to build on this win in their next home outing against Delhi Dynamos FC on the same day.
Hero of the Match: Milagres Gonsalves (Watch here)
Swift Moment of the Match: CS Sabeeth (Watch here)
Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Narayan Das
ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Sandesh Jhingan