Kerala Blasters FC sprung a late surprise by hammering four goals in the second half to defeat FC Goa by 4-2 to secure their first win after three games in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 tonight. The Kochi-based outfit thus stormed into the fourth spot, inflicting a third straight defeat against FC Goa.

It was a game of two halves, with the visitors heading into the halftime break with a two-goal lead, powered by early strikes by Rowllin Borges and Mohammed Yasir, who joined the team in January from Hyderabad FC. Whilst Borges drew the first blood through a volley from a corner kick in the sixth minute, Yasir converted a squared-up pass from Noah Sadaoui, who drove the ball up on the left flank and laid up a delivery for the young attacking midfielder.

The Gaurs arguably took comfort with that early advantage though, with Kerala Blasters FC making them pay for them in the second half. Daisuke Sakai led the response, pulling off a fantastic free-kick from the left-side edge of the box to beat an outstretched Arshdeep Singh to drill the ball into the top right corner. The goal, more importantly, the nature of it, swayed the game in the favour of the home side, with Ivan Vukomanovic and his pep talk in the break paying rich dividends later on.

As the game entered the final 10 minutes, Greek striker Dimitrios Diamantakos notched a brace and assisted once to bring the Manjapadda alive.

There was never any doubt about him converting the spot-kick in the 81st minute, slotting the ball into the bottom right corner to equalise scores. Kerala Blasters FC kept pushing ahead thereafter, with an overcrowded box helping him find a way past Arshdeep for the third goal of the night for his team three minutes later.

The Gaurs wore a totally disarrayed look after that. The backline was unable to get itself in order, with Diamantakos once again managing to break past them and slide in a pass on the path of their new recruit Fedor Cernych. The latter showed sublime efficiency to shoot the ball into the net, bringing up their fourth goal in less than 40 minutes to reignite their campaign.

Key Performer of the Match

Dimitrios Diamantakos (Kerala Blasters FC)

Two goals and an assist from Diamantakos were accompanied by 13 completed passes, four earned fouls, and the creation of a solitary goal-scoring opportunity from his end. The talisman has been donning the role of the senior statesman in the absence of Adrian Luna, and he will hope that this performance can help his side get back on track after a poor month in the top tier.

What’s next for both teams?

Kerala Blasters FC will tour to take on Bengaluru FC on March 2 for their next match, whereas FC Goa will face Mumbai City FC in their forthcoming fixture on February 28.

Brief Scores:

Kerala Blasters FC 4 (Daisuke Sakai 51’, Dimitrios Diamantakos 81’ 84’, Fedor Cernych 88’) - FC Goa 2 (Rowllin Borges 7’, Mohammed Yasir 17’)

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