After a disappointing season, Kerala Blasters FC will be eager for a strong comeback, and they've made an impressive start to the ISL 2023-24 campaign. The Blasters took the lead when Keziah Veendorp netted an own goal, but it was an unfortunate blunder by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu that turned the tide against Bengaluru FC.
The first half of the match was rather cautious, with both teams struggling to create clear-cut chances. However, the Blasters came out with renewed intensity in the second half, earning themselves a goal.
The game took stretched after the goal, prompting Simon Grayson to introduce attacking changes. However, a sudden lapse of judgment, perhaps influenced by the passionate Manjappada crowd, led to an uncharacteristic error by Gurpreet.
A seemingly routine back-pass by Damjanovic proved difficult for Gurpreet to handle, and Adrian Luna's relentless pressing paid off as snatched the ball from the goalkeeper's poor touch before slotting it into the unguarded net.
Following the goal, Gurpreet gestured that he couldn't hear due to the deafening noise levels in the stadium. This underscored the challenging atmosphere for opponents playing at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi, where the home support on opening day was truly remarkable.
Kerala Blasters certainly have the upper hand, especially their defensive performance, which has been a highlight of this game. They then capitalized on their chances on the other end thanks to mistakes from Bengaluru FC.
Kerala Blasters FC get one over their fierce rivals Bengaluru FC in the ISL 2023-24 opener
The victory carries special significance due to the history between the two teams, particularly the controversies of the previous year. The debate over Sunil Chhetri's quick free-kick goal during a playoff game at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium still lingers.
While the Blasters were setting up the wall, Chhetri took a swift free-kick that caught them off guard. Despite protests, the referee allowed the goal, and Ivan Vukomanvoic and his team left the pitch with over twenty minutes remaining on the clock.
Tonight's win serves as a form of redemption for Blasters fans who felt hard done by their defeat last season.
It's a significant result for the Blasters, who begin the season with three points in the bag, while Bengaluru FC will need to improve their form in the upcoming matches.