ISL: Kerela Blasters beat NorthEast United FC 1-0
Kochi: CK Vineeth scored the only goal as Kerala Blasters defeated NorthEast United FC 1-0 to register their maiden win in the ongoing Indian Super League (ISL) season here today.
Wes Brown, who made his Kerala Blasters debut, replaced the injured Dimitar Berbatov and conducted play from midfield. Siam Hanghal was brought into midfield, with Courage Pekuson playing in behind Dutchman Mark Sifneos.
The visitors went into the game with Danilo Lopes leading their frontline as expected. Narzary and Doungel were deployed on either flank to provide him support. Rowllin Borges and Marcinho were tasked with overruling Kerala's authority in midfield, with TP Rehenesh in between the sticks.
Blasters started on the front foot, with Brown instrumental in building up play from the back to the front for the home side. A cross-field masterstroke towards Jackichand Singh on the right flank and a defence-splitting through ball for CK Vineeth triggered the alarm bells in the North Eastern camp. Marcinho and Danilo Lopes, foreign frontmen for NorthEast United, were a threat to the Kerala defence. Rachubka had to be alert in the 19th minute when Danilo played a quick give and go with Marcinho inside the box and send a powerful shot at him. It was on target but fortunately for the Manchester United academy graduate, Lakic-Pesic was there to deflect it away for a corner.
Blasters managed to draw first blood after several minutes of persistent pressure. Malayali flavour in the team, CK Vineeth and Rino Anto combined in the 24th minute to send the crowd into delirium. The latter crossed into the centre of the box from the right for the former to send a flying header into the net.
NorthEast United couldn't muster an equaliser before the final whistle and the two big moments in the first half - the goal and the red card - swayed the three points towards the home side.