ISL: Diamantakos brace powers Kerala Blasters to thumping win over FC Goa

KBFC's Dimitrios Diamantakos celebrates his goal against FCG at Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium, Kochi on Sunday. Photo: FSDL

Kochi: Kerala Blasters FC ended their losing streak in style in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2024 with a hard-fought 4-2 win over FC Goa at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Sunday. 

A brace from captain Dimitrios Diamantakos opened the floodgates for the home side, which bounced back from being two goals down as early as the 17th minute. 

Blasters returned from the break inspired and started creating chances forcing the Goan defenders to make errors. And that's exactly what they did when they brought down Diamantakos just outside the penalty box, gifting the home side a decisive free-kick in the 51st minute. Blasters reduced the deficit to 1-2 when Daisuke Sakai placed the ball neatly inside the near post, over the wall of defenders, leaving no chance for Goan custodian Arshdeep Singh. 

Not allowing the visitors to regain their rhythm, Blasters kept up their raids. In the 81st minute, Goa succumbed to the pressure and conceded a penalty when Carl McHugh handled the ball inside the area. Diamantakos calmly slotted the penalty into the low right corner, sending Arshdeep the wrong way. Three minutes later, Diamantakos found the net once again to give the hosts the lead. Mohammed Aimen created a chance from a tight angle, catching the Goan keeper off-guard. The Greek forward seized the opportunity, sneaking the ball past the goalie and a defender to score his second of the match. 

KBFC's Fedor Cernych celebrates his goal against FCG at Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium, Kochi. Photo: FSDL

Four minutes later, in the 88th minute, Fedor Cernych combined with Diamantakos to secure his side's fourth goal. Receiving the ball from Cernych, Diamantakos set him up with a wide one-touch pass, leading him away from the defenders. The Lithuanian raced behind the ball and angled it in from the right.

FCG's Mohammad Yasir found the back of the net at Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium on Sunday. Photo: FSDL

The scent of victory transformed Blasters into a completely different side, with all departments rallying behind the strikers. Karanjit Singh made some inspiring saves to frustrate the visitors further. The energy was contagious, as the defenders regained their composure, clearing balls sliding on the ground and gliding in the air.

This looked like a completely different side compared to the one in the first half of which the Goa made light work and took the lead as early as the seventh minute through Rowllin Borges's stunning close-range effort, doubling it 10 minutes later with a well-crafted goal from Mohammad Yasir.

Goa started the match unleashing a flurry of attacks on the Kerala outfit from the outset, forcing the hosts to concede a corner in the seventh minute. Borja Herrera delivered the ball into the danger zone, where Blasters defenders failed to clear it, allowing Rowllin to slot it home from close range.

Goa extended their lead through Yasir's magical touch in the 17th minute. Noah Sadaoui made a move down the left wing and crossed the ball to Yasir, who found the back of the net with a deft touch in front of four defenders. Things could have been different if a questionable offside call by the linesman hadn't denied Noah a goal in the 20th minute. It would have been tough for Blasters to bounce back from a three-goal deficit. However, the second half made those 45 minutes seem like an entirely different match. 

The win propelled Blasters into fourth spot in the table with 29 points from 16 matches, while Goa sit in fifth place with 28 points from 15 matches.

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