Kerala Blasters snatched it in the end and the man had to be CK Vineeth. He made his return in this match and he made a difference. FC Goa deserve a lot of credit for their resilience. While the first red card was a harsh one, they cannot complain about the second.
There will also be repurcussions for the way they hounded the referee after the match. The officials had to be escorted out of the field in a bid to protect from the onslaught of the Goa players. Coach Zico himself could hardly restrain himself, shouting at the third officials and making gestures to the camera at the end of it all. Certainly one of the most eventful matches of this ISL season.
Kerala Blasters have been rocked with the absence of marquee player Aaron Hughes for their crucial Hero Indian Super League encounter against FC Goa at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi, on Tuesday.
Kerala’s choice of Aaron Hughes as a marquee player was well-thought. He was comparatively younger than the other marquee players and with his international playing days behind him, was expected to be around for most part of the ISL. However, Northern Ireland have summoned Hughes to bolster its defence and Kerala will have to do without their most influential player.
“When we signed him as a marquee player, we thought (about) his age and having finished the European Championships, we thought his international days were over. Northern Ireland has had an injury problem and called him into the squad,” said Kerala manager Steve Coppell
Apart from Hughes, Kerala will also have to do without Haitian international Duckens Nazon, while the two Bengaluru FC players – Rino Anto and CK Vineeth – are unlikely to be fielded straightway. It’s the absence of Hughes which will hit Kerala the most but Coppell believes other players can step into his boots and avoid results like the 0-2 defeat against Delhi Dynamos in the previous clash.
“He is a marquee player. We signed him because he is a good player. To lose him is a loss. When one door closes, it opens for someone else. It’s an opportunity. When you have such big squads in the ISL, when players get opportunities, they must grab,” said the Kerala Blasters manager, who will take his side back home after four consecutive away games where they managed five points.
Kerala Blasters have had the best defence in the league but most of their defensive strength is due to a strong partnership at the back consisting of Hughes and Cedric Hengbart. Whether it remains the same without Hughes remains to be seen but FC Goa forwards have not been as explosive as in the past.
FC Goa have scored only five goals in eight matches and chief coach Zico hopes his strikers will come good in the second phase.
“I think our players are suffering from anxiety. They have this pressure to score and look for the results. When it comes to finishing, they are being reckless. They don’t have the patience. They are not cold-blooded in front of goal. The goalkeeping standard this year has been quite high too,” explained Zico.
With Julio Cesar on the injured list, Zico will have to continue relying on Brazilian striker Rafael Coelho to get him the goals. Coelho scored the match winner from a majestic free-kick against FC Pune City and the visitors will need the full points to stay in contention for a place in the semi-finals.
FC Goa are placed at the bottom and can jump two spots with a victory, while Kerala Blasters who are in seventh position can move to the top four if they can register a victory at home.
5′ gone Kerala Blasters 0-0 FC Goa
Kerala have started positively, Kervens Belfort made a run into the box but the Goa defenders came back in time to defend, and nothing came of the move. Kerala Blasters have made an attacking start.
GOAL! Kerala Blasters 0-1 FC Goa (Rafael 9′)
Kerala Blasters could have done much better defending that one. Rafael was completely unmarked as Richarlyson floated in his free kick. He got a free header and nudged the ball right through the keeper’s legs. Kerala started well, FC Goa have incredibly taken the lead.
17′ gone Kerala Blasters 0-1 FC Goa
A rare, good counter attacking move from Kerala Blasters which could have ended in goal if Kervens Belfort was able to keep his header on target. Kerala are pushing forward.
23′ gone Kerala Blasters 0-1 FC Goa
Kerala Blasters are really knocking on the doors. Belfort threaded a ball through to Michael Chopra in the box who didn’t waste a touch in passing it to Rafi on the right. The angle turned out to be too tight for him and he hit it straight to the goalkeeper. Some beautifull football being played by Kerala at the moment.
35′ gone Kerala Blasters 0-1 FC Goa
A tussle between Richarlyson and Mehtab Hussein when the former didn’t let the latter get up after making a foul on him. Richarlyson got booked for his tackle while Mehtab got a yellow for his reaction. Seconds later, Luciano got a yellow for his tackle on Belfort.
45′ gone Kerala Blasters 0-1 FC Goa
You have to feel for Kerala. It has been rare to see a team successfully put together meaningful attacks and the home side have done that time and again. Another good attack from Kerala was dissipated when Belfort was declared offside. Kerala looks like they have got a goal in them and they could very well get in the second half if they keep this going. Or maybe in the first half itself, with the six minutes of added time.
HALF TIME!! Kerala Blasters 0-1 FC Goa
Kerala Blasters have produced some of the best attacking displays that we have seen so far in the tournament so all credit to Goa to have managed to kept them out. It would have been a very different story had Kerala had marked Rafael in that 7th minute and there is a chance that Kerala would have actually been ahead in this first half. Still, Goa need to find another goal as Kerala are looking relentless in their attacks and it seems only a matter of time before they score the equaliser.
46′ gone Kerala Blasters 0-1 FC Goa
Penalty for Kerala and its a red card for Gregory. It remains to be who mis going to take the penalty.
GOAL! Kerala Blasters 1-1 FC Goa (Belfort 47′ pen.)
GOAL! Kerala Blasters 1-1 FC Goa (Belfort 48′ pen.)
It was Belfort who took it and he makes no mistakes. Kerala got into the attack as soon as the whistle blew, the shot was taken, the ball rebounded off the keeper and hit Gregory in the hand. A penalty and a yellow would have been fair but the referee, strangely enough, went for the red. A bit harsh, but Belfort has burried it, Kerala rewarded for their attacks
55′ gone Kerala Blasters 1-1 FC Goa
FC Goa are clearly under pressure now. If they allow themselves to be consumed by it they could very well concede a couple of goals more. Mishits, foul tackles, they are looking all over the place and Kerala are pouncing on them whenever they get on the ball.
66′ gone Kerala Blasters 1-1 FC Goa
Surprising that Kerala seems to have lost the sharpness that they exhibited in the first half. Belfort took the ball into the box from the left and it seems he was trying to get a ball into the middle and ended up hitting it out for a goal kick.
70′ gone Kerala Blasters 1-1 FC Goa
Rafique was in the clear adn ran towards goal. He took the shot which was saved by Kattimani sensationaly. Kattimani ended up on the ground after being caught by Rafique’s leg.
75′ gone Kerala Blasters 1-1 FC Goa
A huge cheer from the crowd as CK Vineet enters the match. The striker has had a dream run in the AFC Cup with Bengaluru FC and goes off for Rafique. Josu takes a free kick after the substitution that has landed straight in the hands of the goalkeeper.
80′ gone Kerala Blasters 1-1 FC Goa
Another red card for FC Goa and this time, it’s Richarlyson. This time, it was a second yellow and a deserved one. Richarlyson was animated and he is also down injured. Finally they take
95′ gone Kerala Blasters 1-1 FC Goa
9 minutes of extra time. Kerala are the only team on the ball, without much surprise and FC Goa are doing everything they can to try and draf the game to an end. Players are going down injured, and they are spending as many seconds as they can to take throw ins.
GOAL!! Kerala Blasters 2-1 FC Goa (CK Vineet 98′)
FULL TIME!! Kerala Blasters 2-1 FC Goa
Goa players are livid and they are directing their anger at the referee. Security officials have come onto the field to protect the New Zealander and the referees had to be escorted from the premises. It would be very surprising if this doesn’t have any repercussions.
After the second yellow for Goa, this was Kerala’s match to lose. They attacked with everything they had and Goa defended with all their hearts. In the end, CK Vineeth, returning from his exploits with Bengaluru FC in the AFC Cup was the man who put Kerala ahead. This match has concluded, but there is more repurcussions to come.