ISL: Kerala Blasters Edge FC Pune City 1-0 in an enticing encounter
An Iain Hume goal in the 23rd minute led Kerala Blasters to a 1-0 win over FC Pune City, in a fixture which promised a place in the semi-finals, for either side. With this win Kerala Blasters, ensured their way into the coveted semi-final spots and become the third team after Chennaiyin FC and FC Goa, to enter the next round of the Super League.
Kerala Blasters started with a flat 4-4-2 formation. Sandip Nandy started in place of David James, who was expected to be out of the tie with a slight knock. Sandesh Jhigan and Mehtab Hossain made their way back into the starting XI. The attacking duo of Milagres Gonsalves and Iain Hume led the line for Kerala Blasters.
FC Pune City made a slight alteration to their 4-2-3-1, and started with a 4-3-1-2, formation. Surprisingly, the Franco Colomba managed team was led by Dudu and Jermaine Pennant. Pennant, is usually a winger and his plied his trade for Liverpool and Arsenal. Manish, started as the creative outlet behind these two ‘pacey’ forwards.
An eventful first half reached its zenith when Iain Hume scored from a free kick. The Canadian was already showing signs of brilliance and slotted a brilliantly worked free kick after being brought down by FC Pune City’s Mady.
FC Pune City continued to attack the home side for the remainder of the first half. Chances came in plenty for the attacking partnership of Dudu and Jermaine Pennant, but both the forwards failed to capitalize on them.
With Kerala Blasters going on the back foot, the home side drew inspiration from their home support and dug their roots into the game. The Blasters started to match Pune, department for department and kept possession in the midfield region. An enticing battle raged between Stephen Pearson and Kostas as both players looked to mark their stamp on the game, nullifying each other’s effect subsequently.
A FC Pune City side looking to grab all three points by force, emerged out of the dressing room and started to attack Kerala Blasters from the first minute of the second half. Sandip Nandy justified his steel and pedigree as India’s veteran keeper and Nandy made some phenomenal saves to deny FC Pune City the equalizer.
With time running out, FC Pune City decided to pour men forward and started to pull all the strings in the game. Kerala Blasters meanwhile kept their shape and thwarted every Pune advance. The home side finally resisted every possible Pune attack and held on to a commendable draw against the Hrithik Roshan co-owned franchisee.