From the stands, Pele watched a beautiful goal. Jamie Gavilan played a long ball to Iain Hume whose first touch was brilliant. His left-footer was blocked by Kerala Blasters keeper Stephen Bywater but Izumi Arata was quicker than his marker Gurwinder Singh and placed the ball into the right corner. Atletico de Kolkata were up and running.
It was the first home fixture for the defending champions and more than 60,000 fans had turned up at the Salt Lake Stadium. They raised the decibel level when Pele arrived as the guest of honour.
The hosts imposed themselves from the outset. The first goal came in the 6th minute, and the match became a one-way traffic. The best thing about Kolkata is that they play as a team. Yesterday, Pele was lamenting Brazil’s lack of team effort. He would have appreciated the football Antonio Habas’ men put on display. The second goal epitomised that collective effort as Hume, Borja Fernandez and Man of the Match Lara combined beautifully. Lara turned Bruno Perone and unleashed a right-footer that deflected off Ramage and entered the far post.
At 2-0, Kolkata thought they had the match in their pocket. Their intensity level dropped and this allowed Kerala to come back into the game. Christopher Dagnall reduced the margin on 80 minutes as S Shankar set him up with a flick from Ramage’s cross. Two minutes later, Sanchez Watt had a very good opportunity to make it 2-2, but Kolkata goalkeeper Juan Sanchez denied him.
In the end, 2-1 was a fair result which took the reigning champions to the top of the table with seven points from three matches.