I-League 2nd division entrants Delhi FC scripted history as they beat ISL side Kerala Blasters 1-0 in the Durand Cup at the Municipal Stadium in Kalyani to qualify for the quarter-finals. A first-half strike from Willis Plaza was enough to take the Delhi State League side to the knockouts at the expense of the multi-crore ISL side.
Delhi FC were in top gear from the word go as Temuri's attempt was saved by Prabusukhan Gill on goal in the fifth minute of the game. The Delhi League side kept coming close to scoring all throughout the first half. Willis Plaza set up Sergio Barboza for an opportunity at goal but the Brazilian just managed to scuff it wide.
The Blasters defense seemed to have no solution to Plaza's quick movement with the ball. The Caribbean had a go at goal which was somehow cleared away on the goal line by a Kerala Blasters defender in the 36th minute to keep the scorecard unchanged.
Kerala Blasters also came close to scoring just before half-time as Lalthathanga Khawlhring's shot sailed past the Delhi goal from close range in the 44th minute.
Delhi FC took the lead minutes after play resumed in the second-half. Willis Plaza made a darting run down the right side of the Kerala Blasters box and found the back of the net with a strong shot on goal in the 53rd minute.
Kerala Blasters failed to score an equalizer in the second half of the Durand Cup game with Delhi FC
Kerala Blasters FC shifted gears and were more desperate going into attack as they chased an equalizer. Rahul KP showed great trickery to get around the Delhi FC goalkeeper and created an empty goal for him to shoot at. However, Delhi's Anwar Ali had other plans and made an exceptional goal-line clearance to preserve Delhi's lead in the 64th minute.
The ISL side kept knocking on doors as Sahal Abdul Samad failed to find the net in one of the easiest chances to score in the game. Rahul KP found Sahal with a lobbed ball but the latter failed to overcome the Delhi FC goalkeeper in a 1v1 situation in the 83rd minute.
Luck continued to elude the Blasters as Rahul KP rattled the woodwork in additional time. Ranjit Bajaj led Delhi FC somehow managed to salvage their first ever Durand Cup win to enter the knockouts.
Delhi FC will now face FC Goa in the Durand Cup quarter-finals while Kerala Blasters pack their bags and return to Goa to prepare for the Indian Super League.