Vineeth’s brace scripts stunning comeback win for Kerala against Chennai
Kerala Blasters FC beat Chennaiyin FC 3-1 in front of more than 53,000 fans at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Saturday evening. Chennai took a first-half lead through a deflected Bernard Mendy effort. Super-sub Didier Boris Kadio equalised in the 66th minute before a brace from CK Vineeth handed the Blasters all three points as the men in yellow rose to second in the 2016 Hero Indian Super League table.
Jeje Lalpekhlua registered the first shot of the game on target in the second minute after defensive uncertainty saw a loose ball fall to him inside the box. The Indian striker’s shot was straight down Graham Stack’s throat in Kerala’s goal to the delight of the home support.
Raphael Augusto had a deflected shot on goal fly inches wide of the target four minutes later. The visitors made the early pressure pay in the 22nd minute after Augusto found Mendy on the wing with acres of space to run into.
The powerful Frenchman narrowed in on goal from the left before seeing his attempt take a wicked deflection off Kerala’s defence and loop over Stack in goal to make it 1-0 for the visitors and silence the home crowd.
Chennai should have doubled their lead on the half hour mark after Mendy drove to the byline and found Dudu with a cross from the left. However, the Nigerian frontman couldn’t keep his effort on target, to the relief of Stack in goal.
The Super Machans had another opportunity of extending their lead on the stroke of half-time with Augusto pulling the strings from midfield. Dudu received the Brazilian midfielder’s pass before seeing his attempt trickle wide of goal as the teams headed into the break with the score at 1-0 in favour of the visitors.
The first chance of the second period went Kerala’s way after a Mohammed Rafique flick-on played substitute Kadio through on goal. The Ivory Coast striker failed to make proper connection with the ball allowing Chennai to keep their 1-0 lead intact.
The hosts came close to finding the equaliser on the hour mark as Vineeth’s deflected cross from the left was only kept out by a despairing dive from Duwayne Kerr. They would, however, find the leveller six minutes later with substitutes Antonio German and Kadio combining to perfection.
German harried Eli Sabia and took the ball off his feet before charging towards the byline and squaring a ball from the left for Kadio. The onrushing Ivory Coast attacker tucked the ball into the back of the net to make it 1-1 as the home support roared in approval.
Chennai almost broke Kerala hearts eight minutes from full-time after Dudu outmuscled the Blasters’ backline and got a shot off on goal. The Nigerian’s shot was goal-bound and required a block from Sandesh Jhingan to keep his team in the game.
It turned out to be crucial as Kerr failed to collect a Josu cross from the left in the 85th minute with Vineeth waiting to pounce on the error. The 28-year-old expertly finished with a scissors-kick at the far post to send the crowd into a frenzy.
The Blasters sealed maximum points a minute from full-time after German played Vineeth in on goal with just Kerr to beat. The local boy from Kerala produced an expert finish from outside the box to make it 3-1 and help his team win the second south Indian derby of the season.
Club award: Kerala Blasters FC
Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Raphael Augusto
DHL Winning Pass of the Match: Antonio German
Maruti Suzuki Swift Moment of the Match: CK Vineeth
ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Jayesh Rane
Hero of the Match: CK Vineeth