384 days. That’s right. It took 384 long days for the Kerala Blasters FC to register their first home game win.
The 3-0 victory, their second this Indian Super League (ISL) season, came against Chennaiyin FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Kochi on Friday.
It was an evening in which everything clicked for the hosted – they were excellent in attack, dominant in midfield and tight at the back.
Matej Poplatnik hit a brace (23’ and 55’) to put Kerala Blasters ahead. Later in the evening, young midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad sealed things off in the 71st minute with his first ever ISL goal. The win also ended the team’s 14-game winless run in the ongoing season.
While the win brought cheer to the home fans on one hand, things continued to look gloomy for the visitors on the other.
The loss marked Chennaiyin’s 12th loss of the season.
The game was always going to be an inconsequential affair with both the teams rooted at the bottom. While Kerala have climbed to the eighth place with 14 points, Chennai remain at the bottom with 8 points.
1⃣st goal of the season ? Matej Poplatnik
2⃣0⃣0⃣th goal of the season ? Matej Poplatnik
— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) February 15, 2019
The visitors never really seemed to get going, starring on the back foot from the first minute itself.
It was a busy evening for Chennaiyin keeper Karanjit Singh, with him having to make two great saves early in the game.
The first came when Slavisa Stojanovic shot from the edge of the box, which the custodian saved. He blocked the second one in the follow-up effort from Poplatnik as well.
Kerala’s sustained attack paid off in the 23rd minute.
Courage Pekuson put a low cross into the box that was deflected towards Poplatnik by Karanjit. The striker headed into an empty net to help the home side take the lead.
Kerala almost doubled their lead after Karanjit was forced to make two fine saves through Pekuson and Seiminlen Doungel’s efforts.
The story remained unchanged in the second half with Kerala attacking for fun. The second goal soon followed 10 minutes later.
It was Len Doungel who initiated a swift counter-attack and passed on the ball to Sahal down the right flank. The winger then squared off a pass into the box which the Chennaiyin defenders failed to dealt with.
Stojanovic got to it before anyone else and found Poplatnik. The latter lashed home with a powerful shot.
The goal seemed to help the home team’s confidence as they continued to press high. The inevitable third soon followed in the 71st minute.
Samad again started the attack with a speedy run from his own half.
The Chennaiyin defenders failed to clear the ball after his attempted one-two with Doungel didn’t come off.
Nevertheless, the winger carried on his pacy run to latch on to the loose ball, lift the ball, and put it past the onrushing Karanjit.
Although Chennaiyin did try hard in the latter stages to somehow squeeze through a consolation goal. However, Kerala saw off the game with fair ease that has been detached from them for so long.