Marcelinho, Sifneos on target as Pune hold Kerala at home
Kerala Blasters FC and FC Pune City played out a 1 – 1 draw in Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Thursday. Marcelinho gave the Stallions the lead in the first half, while Mark Sifneos cancelled that strike in the second with the season’s 100th goal.
The visitors started with intent as both Marcelinho and Emiliano Alfaro kept finding inroads through the Kerala defence, but their gameplay in the final third let them down. The Stallions had their first chance with a quarter of an hour played. Jonatan Lucca cut in from the left and his shot from the edge of the box was spilled by Kerala custodian Subhasish Roy. But luckily he managed to get up and clear the ball, before the lurking Marcelinho hit it home.
Pune found the breakthrough three minutes after the half hour mark. Marcelinho played a lovely give-and-go with Ashique Kuruniyan and finished exquisitely after being put through on goal. The home team tried to spur on with attacks of their own, especially with Iain Hume and Sifneos, but could not fashion any real opening as Pune went into the half-time break maintaining their one-goal advantage.
The second half was evened out to begin with, and the first chance after the restart came Pune’s way in the 66th minute. Marcelinho delivered a pass to Kuruniyan who had acres of space to shoot on goal or pass for a tap-in. Instead, he decided to play it into the centre where it was cleared.
Seven minutes later the home side made them pay for that missed opportunity. Substitute Keziron Kizito split the defence with a beautiful through-ball to Courage Pekuson. The Ghanaian went on one of his marauding runs down the left in acres of free space and squared the ball for Sifneos to calmly slot home for the equaliser.
That goal ignited further attacks from the home team as they took charge. Five minutes from time, Hume stepped up for a free-kick but his powerful low shot was directed straight at custodian Vishal Kaith. Four minutes later they had an even better opportunity when Pekuson forced himself past the defence, but his shot from a slight angle just fizzed wide off Kaith’s far post.
That was the last piece of action from the match as with the 1 – 1 draw, the Stallions climbed to the top of the league table courtesy of a superior goal difference, while the Blasters stayed rooted at eighth.
Club Award: Kerala Blasters FC and FC Pune City
Swift Moment of the Match: Subhasish Roy
DHL Winning Pass of the Match: Courage Pekuson
Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Marcelinho
Emerging Player of the Match: Ashique Kuruniyan
Hero of the Match: Mark Sifneos
Watch the match highlights here: