Kerala edge Goa 2-1 in a heated encounter in Kochi
Kerala Blasters FC scored in second-half stoppage time to secure a 2-1 win over FC Goa in an action-packed Hero ISL 2016 encounter at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Tuesday evening. Playing in front of over 34,000 spectators, Rafael Coelho put Goa ahead in the ninth minute before Kervens Belfort equalised from the spot after Gregory Arnolin was sent off after the break. Goa were then reduced to nine men with Richarlyson seeing his second yellow before CK Vineeth came on to score in the dying moments of the game.
Kerala Blasters were the better team off the blocks having more of the ball. Josu Currais tried to catch Laxmikanth Kattimani off guard with a direct shot from the corner but only managed the side-netting. It was all Kerala until Coelho headed in to put Goa ahead in the ninth minute. Richarlyson’s free-kick from the deep found Coelho, who headed it down through Graham Stack's legs.
Belfort shortly after got a couple to chances to equalise with crosses from Mohammed Rafi and Mohammed Rafique but he headed it wide on both occasions. The Blasters ran Goa ragged down the flanks with the men in yellow dominating possession. Rafique wasted a golden opportunity when Michael Chopra found him inside the box after a beautiful move but the Indian was only able to only tap it straight towards Kattimani.
The action heated up as Kerala passed the ball around and kept possession. Arnolin and Luciano Sobrosa, however, did well to prevent a goal with the Blasters keeping up the pressure. Josu continued sending in dangerous balls from the left and also tried his luck from distance but hit it wide. The first half ended with Kerala looking stronger of the two teams but Goa having the all-important goal.
The second half began with a bang. Arnolin blocked Rafique’s deflected shot using his hand inside the box and got a straight red for that, and Belfort stepped up to the mark and got the equaliser after sending Kattimani the wrong way.
Kerala, having got the equaliser, went for the winner as they tried to stretch a 10-man Goan team. Josu hit a free-kick straight to Kattimani, who comfortably collected the ball. Quite a few shots were unleashed from distance but either they went wide or went over the crossbar. Drama unfolded again as Richarlyson was sent off with a second yellow for a rash foul on Vineeth.
With nine minutes added of injury time, the hosts kept pressing in front of their passionate home fans. Kattimani and the entire Goa defence held on resiliently but in the last minute of injury time, Vineeth managed to get the winner to secure all three points for his team. With their win, the Blasters climbed up to fourth in the standings, while Goa continued propping up the league.
Club award: Kerala Blasters FC
Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Sandesh Jhingan
DHL Winning Pass of the Match: Mohammed Rafique
Maruti Suzuki Swift Moment of the Match: CK Vineeth
ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Pratik Chaudhari
Hero of the Match: Mehtab Hossain