Kerala, Mumbai share spoils after end-to-end encounter
Kerala Blasters FC played out their third successive draw of Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 – this time 1-1 – against Mumbai City FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Sunday. Mark Sifneos’ goal in the first half, which was also Kerala’s first of the season, was cancelled out by Balwant Singh’s strike in the second.
Kerala started on the up and the first few minutes saw Mumbai barely hanging on as the Blasters brought on a barrage of attacks. Sandesh Jhingan hit a powerful shot in the fifth minute after the ball came to him following a corner. Lucian Goian though, came up with a timely block.
The hosts kept asking questions and finally got their first goal of the season in the 14th minute. Rino Anto put in a delightful cross from the right towards Sifneos and the Dutchman scored with a first-time shot to send the Kerala fans into ecstasy.
That goal spurred on Mumbai and they surged forward in search of the equialiser. However, that meant they were vulnerable on the counter-attack and Kerala nearly scored a second in the 27th minute from one such move. Jackichand Singh found CK Vineeth with a floated ball, and Kerala’s local boy held off his marker, turned and even got a powerful shot away. Amrinder Singh though, came up with a smart save.
The hosts then spurned a great chance two minutes from half time. Dimitar Berbatov found Jackichand Singh with a lovely lofted ball. Jackichand collected it well, but blasted his shot over the goal with only the keeper to beat.
Mumbai then took the attack to Kerala after the restart and was unfortunate to not have levelled 10 minutes into the half. Everton Santos did well to get through on goal from Achille Emana’s pass, and his shot, which took a slight deflection off the legs of the diving Paul Rachubka, hit the post.
But Mumbai were not to be denied a deserved goal and it came as a result of some crisp passing in the 77th minute. Emana released Santos on the right flank, and the Brazilian put in a deft pass towards the centre. Balwant shook off pressure from Jhingan to expertly tap it home.
The visitors kept on attacking, but the Kerala defence held strong. The night though ended on a sour note for the home team as Vineeth was booked a second time in the 90th minute following a tussle with Balwant, and was consequently given his marching orders. The score-line remained the same for the remainder of the injury-time as the teams shared the spoils.
Club Award: Kerala Blasters FC and Mumbai City FC
Swift Moment of the Match: Paul Rachubka
DHL Winning Pass of the Match: Rino Anto
Amul Fittest Player: CK Vineeth
Emerging Player: Davinder Singh
Hero of the Match: Balwant Singh