ISL: Kerala Blasters move closer to play-offs

KBFC players celebrate as Rahul Praveen scores a goal against Chennaiyin FC. Photo: Special Arrangement

Kochi: Kerala Blasters moved closer to the play-offs with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Chennaiyin FC in their Indian Super League (ISL) match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Tuesday.

The victory, their seventh at home this season from nine games, helped Blasters consolidate their third spot. The Yellow Brigade have 31 points from 17 matches, while Chennaiyin's play-offs hopes are virtually over.

It all began promisingly for Chennaiyin as Abdenasser El Khayati provided them a dream start on his 34th birthday. The Dutch winger's left-footed shot from the edge of the box beat Prabhsukhan Gill hands down in the second minute.

However, Blasters came back strongly.

Rahul K P missed a golden chance to equalise in the 12th minute as he shot over after a cut-back from Adrian Luna.

Blasters came close again in the 20th as Nishu Kumar's shot after a lovely back flick by Rahul was brilliantly parried away by Samik Mitra for a corner-kick.

The home side came agonisingly close to finding the equaliser in the 27th, but Dimitrios Diamantakos pulled his attempt wide.

The Greek striker failed to hit the target soon off a rebound after Mitra had effected a save.

But Luna drew level for Blasters in the 37th. The Uruguayan's superb strike gave no chance to Mitra as the home fans rejoiced.

Vincy Barretto almost regained the lead for the visitors in the injury time against his former club, but Gill came up with a fine save.

Players of CFC and KBFC in action at the Hero Indian Super League match held in Kochi on Tuesday, February 7, 2023. Photo: Special Arrangement

Blasters continued to press forward in the second half. Rahul netted the winner in the 64th as Mitra failed to deal with his shot off a low cross by Luna.

Ninthoinganba Meetel was thwarted by Gill in the 69th as Blasters survived an anxious moment.

Blasters substitute Bryce Miranda had a penalty appeal turned down in the 73rd.

Though Chennaiyin tried hard, the home side held on to pocket three vital points in the Southern derby. 

Blasters next meet Bengaluru FC on Saturday.

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