ISL: Kerala, Chennaiyin in exciting draw
Kochi: Kerala Blasters produced a spirited performance to hold Chennaiyin FC to a 1-1 draw in a well contested Indian Super League (ISL) encounter at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Saturday.
Brazilian midfielder Elano Blumer handed Chennaiyin the lead when he converted a penalty in the 34th minute. Chris Dagnall drew level for the hosts 15 seconds after play restarted in the second session.
Kerala Blasters got a golden chance to earn the full three points when they were awarded a penalty in the 52nd minute. Josue Prieto’s low attempt was kept away by Chennaiyin goalkeeper Karanjit Singh.
Chennaiyin are now fifth on the ISL table with 10 points from seven matches. Kerala, who managed to break a losing steak stretching back to the last three matches, remain rooted to the bottom with five points.
The hosts however, will consider themselves the unluckier of the two teams as they had plenty of chances to kill the game as a contest, particularly after they had restored parity. Chennaiyin will thank their goalkeeper Karanjit for coming to their rescue on several occasions.
Two of their chances came from free kicks with a 61st minute attempt the closest they came to taking the lead. A free kick from Josue saw Dagnall head the ball but Karanjit did exceptionally well to palm the ball away. The ball, though, did not go too far and Sandesh Jhingan, who was nearby, saw his resultant attempt thunder slightly off the target.
Another chance was missed by Mohammad Rafi who headed wide off a Peter Ramage cross from the left.
But there was no better chance than the penalty that Kerala earned after Ramage was adjudged to have been brought down by Mailson Alves inside the penalty area danger zone and the referee quickly pointed to the spot.
Josue stepped up to take the penalty but Karanjit guessed correctly and saved the attempt by diving full length to his left.
At the other end, Elano got closest to the goal with a curling effort that Kerala custodian Steven Bywater did well to keep away.
Kerala Blasters had to change their strategy for the last 15 minutes after Bruno Perone was sent off for a challenge on Mendoza.
Chennaiyin FC tried to push more men forward and pressurise the rival defence but Kerala Blasters gave little away.