Hyderabad FC’s play-off race was back on course as they registered a superb 4-0 victory against Kerala Blasters FC in the 96th match of the 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) season at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco da Gama, Goa.
Hyderabad FC looked pretty rusty in the first-half, but a number of defensive errors by the visitors helped them run riot on the night.
Kerala Blasters FC were the ones who started well with Seityasen Singh’s cross just evading Gary Hooper, who was looking for a header. Right-back Sandeep Singh then made a fine run and delivered a cross, but Asish Rai turned the over-hit ball for a corner. Kerala Blasters FC had a penalty appeal in just the 5th minute when Chinglensana clashed with Bakary Kone, but the referee did not see it as a foul.
Hyderabad FC got an early free-kick too but Halicharan Narzary's delivery wasn’t good enough to produce a chance. Thereafter, the match became quite scrappy, with both teams conceding possession cheaply while also committing plenty of fouls.
Kerala Blasters FC’s custodian Albino Gomes made a major blunder when he failed to get any contact on his clearance but Costa Nhamoinesu was there to rescue the situation. A good chance then fell Hyderabad FC's way as skipper Aridane Santana mis-directed his header after Joao Victor had come up with a fine cross.
Luck was also on Hyderabad FC’s side as Laxmikant Kattimani produced a fortunate save to stop a fine strike from Hooper. Kerala Blasters FC wasted a fantastic chance when Prasanth Karuthadathkuni struck the ball straight at Kattimani, who was well off his line.
Hyderabad FC spurned a golden opportunity in the early minutes of the second-half when Chianese blazed the ball over the cross-bar after Bakary Kone had slipped inside the box. The chance came Chianese’s way after Aridane dug out a fine cross from the right flank.
The defensive mistakes eventually hurt Kerala Blasters. In the 58th minute, centre-back Odei Onaindia tried to find Sandaza with a diagonal cross and it was poorly intercepted by Kone. Chianese pounced on the mistake but he couldn’t control the ball and it was diverted off Costa’s feet into the path of Sandaza. The experienced Spaniard made no mistake as he tapped it past Albino.
The errors didn’t stop there as Kerala Blasters FC conceded a penalty after Kone had made a poor back-pass. Forward Chianese took the ball and tried to wriggle his way around Albino but the goal-keeper failed to make any contact with the ball during his tackle and conceded a spot-kick. Sandaza’s confidence was visible as he came up with a panenka to put Hyderabad FC 2-0 ahead.
The home side then sealed the points in the 86th minute as Aridane produced a bullet header from Lluis Sastre’s free-kick.
In stoppage time, Sastre delivered yet another gorgeous free-kick to the far post that found Aridane, who headed it across goal for Joao Victor. Victor’s initial shot went straight at Albino but the ball rebounded back to the midfielder to tap in on the second attempt.
A dominant 4-0 victory took Hyderabad FC to third place in the points table.
Who was the Hero of the Match?
It came as no surprise that Aridane Santana was named as the ‘Hero of the Match’ once again this season. After a quiet first-half like the rest of the Hyderabad FC outfit, Aridane worked tirelessly for the remainder of the game.
Aridane almost set-up Joel Chianese for a goal with a delightful chip but the Aussie couldn’t finish it off. He continued to win a number of fouls on the right flank, and also got on the scoresheet with a clinical header. Aridane played a pivotal role in Joao Victor's goal as well.