Kerala bow out after a 3-3 draw against Delhi
Kerala Blasters FC bid adieu to the second edition of the Hero Indian Super League after a 3-3 draw against Delhi Dynamos FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Thursday evening. The visitors were never in contention for a top-four spot mathematically and that seemed to take some pressure off Terry Phelan’s men as Chris Dagnall (9th min), Joao Coimbra (30th min) and Antonio German (39th min) handed the home side their fourth draw of the season. Gustavo Dos Santos and Adil Nabi scored for Delhi in the 7th and 40th minutes before Sehnaj Singh hit the back of the net in the dying moments of the game to make it 3-3.
Delhi saw head coach Roberto Carlos make six changes to his starting line-up. John Arne Riise found his way into the starting eleven after missing the previous game, along with Subashish Roy, Serginho Greene, Mama, Dos Santos and Nabi. For Kerala, Phelan handed starts to Cavin Lobo, Coimbra, Ishfaq Ahmed, Mehtab Hossain, Rodrigo Arroz, Bruno Perone and Sandip Nandy, after their loss against FC Goa.
The first half saw end-to-end action with Delhi opening the scoring as early as the seventh minute through dos Santos. Kerala reacted immediately through Dagnall who found himself open in front of goal and made no mistake in putting the ball past Roy. Kerala piled on the pressure after the goal and hurt Delhi two more times through beautiful efforts from Coimbra and German. Kerala barely had a moment to settle down when Mama’s lovely aerial ball was met well by Nabi to keep Delhi in the game.
The second half of the game saw the teams play cautious football, with the game bogged down in midfield for most periods. Dos Santos and Nabi kept things lively for Delhi, while German kept testing the Delhi defence at the other end of the pitch. But the icing on the cake for the game was provided in the dying minutes by Sehnaj for Delhi Dynamos. Provided with both time and space from about 35 yards out, Sehnaj let loose an incredible effort with his right foot which beat Sandip Nandy all ends up and saved Delhi the blushes in the 93rd minute. Delhi tried going for a win but Kerala held their nerves and resisted the late onslaught.
The draw lifted Kerala to seventh spot while Delhi stayed rooted to the third place, level on points with FC Goa but behind on goal difference. Delhi Dynamos still have a game in hand against the Gaurs, which will be the final game of the league stage.
Club Award – Delhi Dynamos and Kerala Blasters FC
Swift Moment of the Match Award – Joao Coimbra [Kerala Blasters FC] (watch here)
Amul Fittest Player of the Match Award – Gustavo dos Santos [Delhi Dynamos FC] (watch here)
ISL Emerging Player of the Match Award – Cavin Lobo [Kerala Blasters FC]
Hero of the Match Award – Chris Dagnall [Kerala Blasters FC] (watch here)