It was an exciting, end-to-end match that had plenty of action, but little to show for it at the end of it all. A 1-0 win was probably well deserved on balance, but Kerala will be rueing that they couldn’t have any shots on goal despite bossing large patches of the game. Roared on by 68,900 in the Kochi stadium, Kerala attacked in waves but the Kolkata defence held strong throughout. Javi Lara had a great game, and as lucky as the goal was – it was his bravery on the ball that created the luck. Here’s a look at how each of the individual players performed in the thriller!
Graham Stack (64 mins): 5.5/10
A confident outing for the former Arsenal man, the goal-keeper kept opposition attacks comfortably at bay and played a safe game. Handled the ball well throughout the game and kept the defensive shape of his side intact. Didn’t have much to do in the deflected goal. With more outings, the leader looks set to stamp his domination under the bars for the Blasters.
Sandesh Jhingan: 6/10
The Indian international and fan-favorite for the home-side had a good game. Kept Iain Hume and Juan Belecoso away for most of the game. Made a mistake in judging Javi Lara’s cross in the first half, but otherwise, had a pretty solid game. At times, Jhingan gave too much space and freedom to Jose Belencoso. Looked to be the ball-playing defender in the back-line and made a mess of Javi Lara’s shot for the goal.
Cedric Hengbart: 6/10
The captain had a strong outing in the backline. Playing against speedy strikers like Iain Hume, Hengbart showed enough experience and quality throughout the game to ensure stability at the back. Contributed in the build-up play and led from the front with some crucial headers during attacking set-pieces.
Pratik Chaudhari: 7/10
Playing in his first ISL, the former Mumbai FC defender impressed one-and-all with his strong performance defensively. Pratik kept the likes of Javi Lara and Iain Hume silent for most of the game and was a constant support to Farukh Chaudhary in attack. With long throws and telling contributions during set-pieces, Pratik had an impressive outing.
Josu Prieto: 6/10
Playing as a make-shift left-back, Josu looked comfortable in the new position. Sameehg Doutie caught him off-guard at times, but the Spanish left winger had a fair game throughout. Kept making runs ahead and linked up well with Mohammed Rafique on the left wing. Coach Steve Coppell must be glad with this man’s performance. Delivered average balls from set-pieces.
Mehtab Hossain: 6/10
Looked to be back on the field after his nightmarish performance against the NorthEast United FC, Mehtab contributed more offensively than in defence. Linked-up play well and switched the ball to wings on a couple of occasions. Gave too much space to Javi Lara for the goal. As the game grew, Mehtab has started to look better and Kerala Blasters would be licking their fingers at the way he delivered set-pieces during the final moments.
Farukh Chaudhary (67 mins): 6.5/10
One of the best performers on the day, Farukh tried hard to create chances for his strikers. Looked confident running at defenders and his skills baffled defenders throughout. The creative spark on the field, Farukh was the lighting energy in a forgettable Kerala Blasters attack. Faded away in the second half.
Elhadji Ndoye: 4/10
Ndoye was almost absent on the pitch. Except for a couple of close passes and quick exchanges with Mehtab, the Senegalese didn’t look interested on the pitch. Could play the role of the enforcer in the midfield, which looked in disarray. Coppell would be expecting his big man to step up his game soon. Made slight improvements in the second half, but was still not enough for his team.
Duckens Nazon (72 mins): 4/10
The 22-year old Haitian tried hard, but was not very effective. Burly-built and strong, the Haitian international could not link well with star forward Antonio German and looked almost out of sync for most of the game. Created a good chance in the first half with a cut-in, with German failed to convert. The strikers need to gel better for Kerala Blasters’ benefits in front of the goal.
Antonio German: 7/10
The former Queen Park Rangers striker had a positive outing. Tried very hard to create some chances with some silky skills and powerful shots, but German couldn’t have a real effect on the game. With almost no link-up play with his fellow striker Nazon, German would look to have better training sessions with the Haitian.
Mohammad Rafique: 6/10
Ran at defenders throughout the game and tried to create chances. The former ATK man made some decent efforts but couldn’t really have an effect on the game. Rafique needs to step up his game to be the chief creator from the wings for this Kerala side.
Sandip Nandy: 5/10
Coming on for Graham Stack to open an outfield position for a foreign player, Sandip was composed and looked good under the bar.
Kervens Belfort: 5/10
The No.9 for Steve Coppell should’ve done much better than running behind defenders and expecting Antonio German to create attacks. With no real presence in the box, Belfort had a forgettable day. Earned a yellow card for simulation, which looked debatable.
Micheal Chopra: 3/10
Came on late in the second half for Nazon and had an impact on the game, but not in footballing terms. Tried picking up Jewel while he laid injured in an animated manner, and was also involved in some disciplinary advice at the end from the referee. On the footballing note, just had a deft dink to show.