The ever so lively crowd in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi was treated with a cagey start to the match. The first shot on target came thanks to former Kerala Blasters star Iain Hume. This was Hume’s first game in Kerala after his move to Atletico and the fans gave him a hero’s welcome despite being in the opposition team.
The first real chance for Kerala came in the 8th minute thanks to Mohammed Rafi. Rafi, who got four header goals this season failed to keep his header on target this time around. Atletico then showcased their attacking brilliance by winning a few corners when Kerala was creating chances of their own on the other side. However, it was Atletico that delivered the first big blow. Mohanraj Nallappan headed in a beautiful cross in the 28th minute to give the visiting side a lead.
Kerala made a huge change just minutes later, replacing star striker Sanchez Watt with Antonio German. German almost got on the scoresheet as well but saw his shot go wide off the far post. German’s introduction proved to be a lucky charm for the home side as they won a penalty in the 40th minute. Josu was fouled inside the box by Denzil Franco and German calmly converted the spot kick to make it 1-1. The score remained the same as the game went to halftime.
Thrilling End to Kerala Blasters vs. Atletico De Kolkata
The second half of the game had a cagey start just like the first. Ten minutes, into half, both teams were firing on all cylinders to get that winning goal. Atletico had a couple of corners when Kerala had some shots on target through German and Chris Dagnall. The game slowed down soon after as both teams were not able to crack the opposition defence. Hume almost killed off the game in the 82nd minute but his shot hit the woodwork, much to the relief of the home fans. The cheers then turned to silence when substitute Arata Izumi’s shot cross cheeked its way into the goal to make it 2-1 for Atletico.
Kerala was in no mood to sit back and gave an immediate reply for the goal through German. He found the back of the net from the box and made it 2-2 to bring back life into the crowd.The game came to a dramatic end when Arata scored again in stoppage time to give Atletico the three points.
Kerala Blasters’ semi-final hopes took a blow due to the loss, while Atletico renewed its hopes of making it into the final four.
Picture Courtesy: Indian Super League
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