Kerala Blasters and Delhi Dynamos were face to face for the first leg of ISL 2016 semi-finals at Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium, Kochi. After the 3-2 game between Atletico de Kolkata and Mumbai City FC, all the 50,000 fans present at the stadium expected a treat from this match too.
Although the game ended with 1-0, Kerala Blasters and Delhi Dynamos didn’t let the fans breathe and kept them on toes, throughout those heartrending 90+6 minutes.
Delhi Dynamos kicked off the proceeding with making the home crowd feel their ‘hearts in mouth’ as in the very first minute, Marcelinho got the ball in the midfield and passed it towards Malouda. The latter’s effort was blocked by Hengbart and the loose ball went to Kean Lewis, who attempted an opener but Jhingan deflected it to the corner. Kerala Blasters hit back from the subsequent corner as Belfort passed the ball to CK Vineeth and the latter took it beyond Antonio Doblas. However, Vineeth’s shot at the goal was off target and went into the side-netting, much to crowd’s disbelief.
The temperature settled down after an intense start as both the teams were defending their posts with everything they had, making it laborious for the opposition to find an opening.
Kerala Blasters were seeing a lot of ball as Mehtab was consistently overshadowing Delhi’s Malouda. Despite Marcelinho testing Kerala’s defense from the left, the game revolved around long passes with the players ignoring the round beauty.
The home crowd went ballistic when Kerala blaster came very close to scoring the opener in the 45th minute. Belfort exploited a misunderstanding in Delhi’s defense as the Kerala forward took the ball right through Delhi’s center defenders and shot a perfect cross past Doblas, straight into the goalpost. The drama was unleashed when referee found him handling the ball and denied Kerala the opener.
The referee blew the halftime whistle with both the teams still struggling to open the scoresheet.
The second half saw Kerala Blasters showing an excellent run with the ball but Delhi Dynamos were not letting the hosts sniff past their defense and the war for goals continued with the crowd the 50,000 witnessing several hair-raising efforts from both the teams.
With Kerala Blasters regressively attacking the visitors, the scoreboard finally moved from stand-still in the 64th minute. Hengbart played Belfort from the center and the Haitian bullied Ruben Rocha and easily went past him. He unleashed the fury by attempting a left-footed shot which went into the goalpost, before deflecting off a sliding Anas.
The home crowd stood up and cheered for Kerala Blasters with utmost joy. The holler must have pinched Delhi Dynamos and their winless streak started haunting them again.
Kerala Blaster went into their renowned defensive mode that every team in ISL 2016 had found difficult to pierce and the story remained unchanged in this first leg of semi finals. Delhi Dynamos tried very hard to score an equalizer before the final whistle and the visitors even left their defense open, in order to attack Kerala Blasters but the scoresheet remained untouched.
The referee blew the final whistle with Kerala blasters winning the game with 1-0. Delhi Dynamos struggled to end their winning drought and if they want to see themselves in the Finals of ISL 2016, they need to defeat Kerala Blasters in the second leg with a draw meaning Kerala Blasters playing in the Finals.
12 December 2016