A thrilling and mesmerizing match which captured beautiful attacking football, came to an end as Kerala Blasters won 1-0, courtesy of a second half goal by Milagres, against FC Goa.
With attacking mentality clearly intended, Kerala Blasters lined up in a 4-4-1-1. CS Sabeeth leading from the front, Penn Orji started in his advanced role as a play maker while Avinabo, a traditional defender, was deployed as the right winger.
With the returning Robert Pires starting for FC Goa, Zico excluded Brazilian flair and former gunner Andre Santos. While Mirsolav Spleckia started as the lone attacker in 4-4-1-1, the electrifying duo of Mandar Rao Desai and Romeo Fernandes started on the left and right wing, respectively.
Although FC Goa dominated possession in a frantic first half, Kerala Blaster clearly made more goal scoring opportunities.
Injected with a boost from the home support, Kerala Blasters made their intentions to grab all three points clear, from the first kick of the ball. Although the trieless Penn Orji failed to capitalize on the long ball forward, chances and long balls such as that became a frequent weapon in Kerala's ammo for the next forty five minutes.
Sandesh Jhinghan pressed higher up the field and at some point of time, played as a left winger. While Kerala Blasters dominated the opening stages of the match, FC Goa slowly and gradually built their stronghold in the game.
An array of FC Goa attacks, largely from outside the 18 yard area came in retaliation. Although, both the sides played beautiful one touch football, a tense and high octane game started to shape.
With box to box plays being initiated, FC Goa started to wither out and often succumbed to Kerala's counter attacks. Meanwhile, Kerala Blasters though dominating the shots on goal chart, failed to capitalize on their chances created.
Continuing along the same tempo, the opening minutes of the second half witnessed clear goal scoring opportunities for both sides. A Bruno Pinhero free kick whiskered past David James's goal as FC Goa yet again failed to capitalize on their set piece scenarios. Minutes later, a quick play between Orji and Sabeeth, set up the latter which failed to succeed.
With Milagres replacing Sabeeth and Andrew Barisic replacing Romey, Kerala Blasters went for the kill, as they started to play with a two man strike force upfront.
FC Goa meanwhile, started to sit back commit men behind ball and hit on counter attacks.
Kerala Blasters finally ripped off their gruesome form infront of goal, as an unmarked Milagres tapped in a decent ball released infront of the Goan defense by Barisic. In a masterclass move by the Blasters, both second half substitutes combined to create Kerala's opening goal in the 64th minute.
FC Goa in an attempt to equalize introduced Ozbey for Robert Pires, as the striker slotted in alongside Mirsolav Spleckia. Kerala Blasters decided to play smart and committed men behind the ball in an attempt to safeguard all three points, as the game approached time.
Although FC Goa created tons of pressure on Kerala in added extra time, the hosts held out to their narrow lead and grabbed all three points.
With this with this win Kerala Blasters uplift themselves to fifth, while FC Goa still reel at the bottom of the league.