Kerala breathe life into their campaign with 2-0 win over Pune
The Kerala faithful were in for a treat as their team Kerala Blasters FC defeated table-toppers FC Pune City 2-0 in their 2015 Hero Indian Super League match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Wednesday evening. Goals from British strikers Chris Dagnall and Sanchez Watt helped the Sachin Tendulkar-owned outfit clinch their second victory of the season and move one spot up to seventh in the league.
Kerala stepped into this match with a must-win attitude. But as the first half progressed, it was nothing but a volley of missed chances for the Terry Phelan-coached team with shots going wide and through balls not being latched onto. It was a busy day for FC Pune City goalkeeper Steve Simonsen as the table-toppers’ defence was caught off-guard on many occasions.
It all began in the fourth minute for the 2014 Hero ISL runners-up when Rahul Bheke’s curling cross found striker Mohammed Rafi right outside the box. Despite having the entire goal to himself, barring the goalkeeper, Rafi’s header was way off the mark.
FC Pune City were on the back foot all through the first half. Out of the few shots taken by the Stallions, one of them yielded a typical header-clearance from Kerala’s ace defender Sandesh Jhingan.
Kerala’s relentless attempts finally bore fruit in the 45th minute when Dagnall found the back of the net, putting the home crowd into a frenzy. The British striker joined the league of the select few who have struck successfully in back-to-back matches this season.
Quite a few chances went begging in the second half too for the home team, one such instance being a beautiful long cross that found a speeding Josu Currias on the right flank but a clear shot on goal from him was obstructed by goalkeeper Simonsen.
The home team went on to double their lead in the 60th minute when Watt made no mistake shooting one past Simonsen. The second goal from Watt this season was set up by Dagnall.
Yendrick Ruiz, who came on for Pune’s top-scorer Kalu Uche in the second half, tried to pull one back for the visitors in the dying minutes of the game but nothing came of his effort.
Despite the defeat, Pune remained No.1 in the table with 13 points from eight matches. They are tied with Delhi Dynamos FC but have played one game more.
Club Award: Kerala Blasters FC
Swift Moment of the Match: Steve Simonsen [FC Pune City] (Watch live)
Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Chris Dagnall [Kerala Blasters FC] (Watch live)
ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Rahul Bheke [Kerala Blasters FC]
Hero of the Match: Sanchez Watt [Kerala Blasters FC] (Watch live)