Kerala Blasters won their fifth consecutive game at home against NorthEast United in a do-or-die game here at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium in Kochi. The win took Steve Coppel’s side to second in the table, just one point behind league leaders Mumbai City FC, and they will take on third-placed Delhi Dynamos in the second semi-final. NorthEast went into the game needing nothing less than a win but were left heartbroken when local boy CK Vineeth scored the opening and only goal of the game in the 66th minute.
Vineeth scored his 4th goal of the season and came out again as Kerala’s Hero of the match after curling a shot past TP Rehenesh who was between the opposition goal. The final league game of the season was truly a game of two halves and the Blasters came out on top after being rightfully rewarded for their second half performances. NorthEast United were wasteful on a couple of occasions and paid the price for the lack of killer instinct in their overall performance.
An unconvincing victory but three points nonetheless ensured that Kerala put and end to the highlanders’ dreams of making the cut for the play-offs. Let’s take a look at the five talking points from the game between Kerala and NorthEast:
#1 Seityasen Singh was North East United’s best player on the pitch
The Manipuri winger was in the thick of the action for NorthEast and was a constant threat down the flanks. He registered the highlanders’ first shot on target in the 18th minute but it was straight at Graham Stack in the Kerala goal and caused no trouble whatsoever for the Blasters’ shot-stopper. Seityasen pushed Rino Anto to his limits in the first half and the 24-year-old came out on top quite a few times after taking on the Bengaluru FC right-back.
Rino even shifted flanks with Sandesh Jhingan due to Seityasen’s constant challenge down the right wing.
However, the Indian international, who scored the opening goal in their last game against Delhi Dynamos would be gutted that he couldn’t find the finishing touch in the final third. The winger blasted a shot way over the goal when a loose ball fell nicely to him just outside the penalty area in the dying minutes of the first half.