CK Vineeth scored a last-gasp goal as Kerala Blasters beat FC Pune City 2-1 in a thrilling Indian Super League match.
Kerala Blasters head coach David James had said that his team would need to win every game left in the season to stand any chance of making the semifinals and his players duly delivered, thanks to goals from Jackichand Singh and Vineeth.
While Jackichand’s goal had class written all over it in the 58th minute and gave Kerala the lead, it was Vineeth who grabbed the limelight with a goal in the injury added time after Emiliano Alfaro had drawn level for the hosts in the 78th minute.
With the scores locked at 1-1, and the clock ticking down towards the final whistle, Courage Pekuson’s long ball was chested down by Vineeth outside the box and hit on the swivel with immense power to beat Vishal Kaith, a stunning goal from a man who has been Kerala’s saviour so many times.
After a barren first session, the second half turned out to be quite eventful which saw three goals and Pune’s Brazilian striker Marcelinho hitting the post twice.
Marcelinho twice hit the post with venomous attempts and then drew a brilliant save from goalkeeper Subhashish Roy Chowdhury. Kerala will argue that Marcelinho should not have been on the pitch after a two-footed lunge on Prasanth was punished with only a yellow card.
The man who got sent off, however, was Pune City coach Ranko Popovic for a confrontation with the fourth official.
For Kerala’s opening goal, Jackichand controlled a ball outside the area and unleashed a pile-driver from outside the area to beat Vishal Kaith’s outstretched dive.
Emiliano Alfaro equalised in the 78th minute from the spot after the Uruguayan striker was through on goal and Kerala goalkeeper Subhasish came off his line to smother the ball. The attacker went down under the challenge and the referee pointed to the dreaded spot.
Alfaro aimed for the bottom corner and made no mistake in scoring his seventh goal of the season.
It seemed like the match would end in a draw until Vineeth came up with a blinder of a goal.
Despite the loss, Pune (22 points from 13 matches) still remain in the play-off spot zone but three points for Kerala Blasters mean they go into fifth position with 20 points from 14 matches.
The Blasters displaced FC Goa (19 points) from the fourth position but have played three additional matches.