Narzary screamer hands Kerala crucial win over ATK
Kerala Blasters FC registered their first away victory of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 after beating ATK FC 1-0 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Sunday. The result lifts Kerala to the 7th position in the table with 14 points from 12 matches and, more importantly, cuts down their difference with the fourth-placed team to just four points.
- Kerala started the match well and had more of the ball in the first half.
- ATK started the second half well, but it was Halicharan Narzary who opened the scoring in the 70th minute and gave Kerala the lead.
Kerala made a bright start as they looked to catch ATK out cold and won a couple of early corners. Eelco Schattorie’s men dominated possession in the opening 30 minutes of the contest while ATK looked content sitting back and playing on the break.
Around the 27th minute, Messi Bouli’s low deflected shot from just outside the box had Arindam Bhattacharja scrambling to reach the ball but fortunately for the ATK defence, it crept out for a corner. Eight minutes later, Roy Krishna had a couple of opportunities to open the scoring from set-piece moves, but his attempts at goal were blocked off at the last moment by Bartholomew Ogbeche, who was back in his own box to help out his defence.
Minutes later, Narzary found himself with space for a shot from 20 yards out but dragged his shot wide of the target. Moments before the half time whistle, Narzary was involved at the other end of the field as he looked to block off Krishna’s run. ATK players appealed for a penalty but the referee adjudged it as a free kick from just outside the box. From the resulting set piece, Armando Sosa Pena missed the far post by a whisker as the two teams headed into the break with the score 0-0.
The second half began with both teams taking a cautious approach and making tentative advances in the opposition third. In the 57th minute, a brilliant piece of skill sent Krishna through on goal, but Mohamad Rakip kept pace with the Fijian international and forced him wide to deal with the danger.
ATK found an extra edge following the chance and began to look dangerous, particularly with Prabir growing into the game. Just after the hour mark, Antonio Lopez Habas dipped into his bench to bring on Jayesh Rane for an injured Agustin Iniguez and changed things up front, replacing Balwant Singh with Jobby Justin.
However, it was Kerala who took the lead, much against the run of play. The ATK defence backed off a little too much, allowing Narzary space to pull the trigger from range. The 25-year-old accepted the invitation with both hands and buried a thunderous strike past Arindam to make it 1-0.
ATK could have gotten right back in it 10 minutes later as Krishna controlled a Sumit Rathi cross brilliantly, turned and got his shot away. But TP Rehenesh was up to the challenge and got down just in time to parry it away.
At the other end, Arindam showed sharp reflexes to keep out Messi’s header and kept the hosts in the contest, heading into the final five minutes of the match. The closing moments of the game saw a lot of drama, both on and off the field with tempers flaring in both camps, but no goals. The match ended 1-0 in Kerala’s favour.
Hero of the Match – Halicharan Narzary
The winger from Assam stepped up when his team needed him the most and scored the all-important winner in the crucial tie against Kerala’s arch-rivals ATK. He also put himself about defensively, putting in three tackles, affecting two clearances and managing a block. He was the Hero of the Match.
Club Award – Kerala Blasters FC
Maruti Suzuki Limitless Player of the Match – Mouhamadou Gning
DHL Winning Pass of the Match – Mohamad Rakip
ISL Emerging Player of the Match – Abdul Hakku
Hero of the Match – Halicharan Narzary
Watch the match highlights here: