Kerala’s thumping 4-1 win keeps their semi-final chances alive
A Chris Dagnall double and strikes from Cavin Lobo and Antonio German were enough to see Kerala Blasters FC register a resounding 4-1 victory over NorthEast United FC with Nicolas Velez scoring a late consolation goal. The 27,432 spectators at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Guwahati on Sunday evening also witnessed the Hero Indian Super League’s fastest goal ever when Dagnall netted with just 28 seconds on the clock.
The game got off to a hundred-mile-an-hour start with the visitors taking the lead within 30 seconds of the kick-off. Kerala pushed forward right from the word go and Dagnall made no mistake when German provided him an inch-prefect pass which the Englishman put in the back of the net.
NorthEast United FC thought they had equalized in the 14th minute with skipper Cedric Hengbart found himself heading in a Simao Sabrosa free-kick five yards from goal but Kerala keeper Stephen Bywater did just enough to keep Hengbart’s effort out as the Frenchman failed to capitalise on the rebound by sending his second attempt over the bar.
Kerala made NorthEast pay seven minutes later when Josu found Lobo with a searching pass forward. Lobo controlled the ball delightfully before slotting it beyond the Highlanders keeper TP Rehenesh to make it 2-0.
The Blasters should have put the game beyond NorthEast five minutes before half-time after Dagnall supplied a dangerous cross across the box. Skipper Peter Ramage found himself with the ball at his feet and only the keeper to beat when Robin Gurung slid in to deny the visitors the third. Josu had another go at goal before the break but Rehenesh did enough this time to keep it at 2-0.
The first opportunity of the second half fell Kerala’s way but Lobo couldn’t get his head on a cross from the right. NorthEast United enjoyed their best spell of the match around the hour mark. Kerala’s defence though stood firm as the Highlanders pushed forward in the hope of clawing their way back into the game.
Head coach Cesar Farias decided to bring on Diomansy Kamara with 20 minutes to spare. The move almost paid off within seconds of his introduction with Kamara getting their best chance of the half. However, Bywater was perfectly placed in goal to deny him Kerala Blasters FC sealed the game 15 minutes from full-time when German found himself with plenty of space in the box. German curled the ball past a helpless Rehenesh, making it 3-0 for a confident-looking Kerala outfit.
Dagnall put the icing on the cake by getting his second of the night a minute later when he ran straight through Highlanders’ defence with drive and penetration to place a left-footed shot in the back of the net and make it 4-0 for the visitors.
NorthEast United FC did pull one back in injury-time through Velez but the match ended at 4-1 and took Kerala off the bottom of the league just below Mumbai City FC in seventh position. NorthEast, on the other hand, remained in fifth and led Kerala by two points at 13.
Club Award – Kerala Blasters FC
Swift Moment of the Match – Chris Dagnall [Kerala Blasters FC] (Watch here)
Amul Fittest Player of the Match – Josu Currias [Kerala Blasters FC]
ISL Emerging Player of the Match – Sandesh Jhingan [Kerala Blasters FC]
Hero of the Match – Cavin Lobo [Kerala Blasters FC] (Watch here)