ISL: Kerala, Delhi in goalless draw
Kochi, Oct 9 (IANS) Kerala Blasters secured their first point in the ongoing third season of the Indian Super League (ISL) with a goalless draw against Delhi Dynamos at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Sunday.
Delhi Dynamos now have four points from two matches and lie third on the ISL table. Kerala are at the seventh spot in the eight-team ladder with one point, just above FC Goa at the bottom of the table.
NorthEast United and Mumbai City FC share the top spot with six points each.
Kerala Blasters had lost their first two matches with narrow margins. They were beaten 1-0 by NorthEast United FC in the inaugural match of this year's tournament before being upstaged by former champions Atletico de Kolkata by the same margin in their second match.
Against Delhi Dynamos, cheered on by a capacity home crowd, the Blasters had their chances to kill the game, but for the third successive match, their strikers drew a blank.
Delhi Dynamos were nowhere close to the dazzling performance from their opening match when they upset defending champions Chennaiyin FC 3-1. They were the second-best side for long spells and never really had clear chances to grab their second successive victory.
Kerala Blasters manager Steve Coppell opted to start with three foreign players up front, handing Michael Chopra his first start of the season. The former Newcastle United striker was accommodated after the home team opted for an Indian goalkeeper in Sandip Nandy, and the choice to have more foreign power upfront did not surprise anyone.
Chopra was determined to not just open his account in this edition of ISL but also of his team. The former England U-20 striker moved quickly, got into open spaces but remained unsuccessful all night.
It was Chopra who was presented with the best chance of the first half and probably the match just seconds before the breather. Chopra received a long ball from his own half which evaded the entire Delhi defence. He was one-on-one with the goalkeeper but the narrow angle meant Delhi goalkeeper Doblas was able to get his hand to the ball and parry the danger away.
Delhi Dynamos were surprisingly subdued. Coming into this game on the back of an entertaining win over Chennaiyin FC, Delhi were expected to hit the ground running.
The visitors, however, lacked direction and enterprise in the first session even though former Chelsea FC midfielder Florent Malouda was included in the starting XI. Delhi rarely had clear looks at the rival goal and were restricted to long hopeful attempts which did not trouble the goalkeeper.
The closest they got to the rival goal was when Brazilian striker Marcelinho, who scored a brace in their opening win, worked his way inside the danger zone beating a couple of defenders but Sandesh Jhingan stopped his run.
Jhingan was also on hand to turn away a dangerous free-kick towards the closing stages with a slide and was later adjudged the man of the match.