Kerala Blasters finally gifted a win to their home crowd
Kerala Blasters FC tasted their first victory of Hero Indian Super League season 3 as they beat Mumbai City FC 1-0. It was a delight for the home fans who came in great numbers close to 40,000 fans at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi, despite sluggish start of the season for Kerala. Kerala’s home crowd support created an atmosphere which led to the Michael Chopra’s decisive goal in the 58th minute and Steve Coppell’s side grabbed first three points. Meanwhile, it also ended Mumbai’s unbeaten run and their chance to go on top of the table.
Kerala were dominating the game from first minute. Mohammed Rafi headed a Kervens Belfort cross from the left on goal with just 20 seconds into the game. Rafi again beats Mumbai’s backline two minutes later, but could find the net with his effort. In 17th minute they had another chance with Sandesh Jhingan cross from the right, but Belfort at the far post couldn’t make the most of it.
It seems like one sided affair as hosts Kerala outplayed visitors Mumbai. Chopra was the next Kerala Blasters player to have a crack at goal in the 35th minute as the hosts continued to dominate the opening half. The 32-year-old’s shot from the edge of the penalty area ricocheted off Mumbai’s defence and allowed the visitors to clear the danger.
Chopra had the best chance of first-half from Josu Currais thorough ball from the left, which found the former Newcastle United striker with space on the right. His shot on goal forced Roberto Volpato into a low save to his right to keep it at 0-0. Josu’s was again into play moment before the end of first-half, as his corner in the last minute of first-half stoppage time found Rafi unmarked in the penalty area, but Rafi failed to convert it into a goal, and score ends 0-0 at the end of first half.
Kerala hard work finally paid in second-half, hosts took the lead in the 58th minute when Belfort’s ball played into the box was missed by Kerala defenders and Chopra who was in the box waiting, made no mistake and side-footed the ball into the net showing his skills finally after a long time, scoring his first ever Hero ISL goal and Kerala’s first of the season.
Mumbai shows no glimpse of recovery as they were missing Diego Forlan. It was only in the 65th minute as Alexandre Guimaraes made two substitution bringing in Sena Ralte and Sony Norde for Boithang Haokip and Lucian Goian showed some glimpse of coming back. Norde made his presence felt four after minutes coming into the game by dancing past Jhingan before beating Sandip Nandy in goal. It was Kerala skipper Aaron Hughes spectacular goal-line clearance which kept Blasters lead intact.
In the last quarter of the game Mumbai were throwing everything forward, but Kerala were sure they are not going to let down the support of their fans, and their marquee striker Michael Chopra’s first goal for the club. They happily managed to snatch a close win to get their first points on table. After all, Chopra’s goal celebration deserved this win, and Mumbai can take care of revenge in return fixture.