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Atletico de Kolkata 2-1 Kerala Blasters: Five Talking Points

Chris Dagnall sparked Kerala Blasters’ fight back with a goal.
Navaneeth Krishnan

Captains Borja Fernandez and Peter RamageThe Hero Indian Super League returned to the Salt Lake stadium, Kolkata – the home of the champions – with a match that saw Atlético de Kolkata edge Kerala Blasters 2-1.The game that was tipped by many as a revenge match of sorts for last season’s runner-up Kerala was won for Kolkata by goals from Arata Izumi and Javi Lara. English striker Chris Dagnall scored the only goal for the Blasters and managed to liven up the last 10 minutes of the match but eventually Atlético emerged winners. Here are the talking points from the match.

#1 Kerala Blasters\' spirited fightback

Kerala Blasters, who possessed immense talent in attack, had to wait until the 80th minute to induce some life into the game.

The game was looking destined to end in another goalless 90 minutes for Kerala Blasters, who did not threaten Atlético for large parts of the match. But a teasing ball in from Peter Ramage was met with the head onto the keeper by Vineeth, and being the goal poacher that he is, Chris Dagnall followed it up to rally home, what was to be a consolation goal for the Blasters.

Kerala Blasters’ coach Peter Taylor will want his players to seek motivation from the team’s short lived fight back at the final moments, when he prepares his team to face Delhi Dynamos at Kochi in five days time.

#2 Impressive Kolkata midfield lead by Javi Lara

Javi Lara got his name on the score sheet after a wonderful solo effort.

Despite the absence of marquee player, Helder Postiga and Indian midfielder Baljit Sahni, Atlético de Kolkata put up a brilliant display in midfield. Scorer of the opener, Arata Izumi, captain Borja Fernandez all toiled in the middle of the park, making Antonio Habas’ Atlético de Kolkata perform like a well-oiled machine.

At the centre of it all, however, was Spanish midfielder Javi Lara. The 29-year old was calm and composed with the ball throughout the night and got his name up on the score sheet with a magnificent, individual effort. With mazy dribbles, he tied the Kerala Blasters defence in knots. He cheekily turned fellow countryman Bruno Perone and dispatched a low slung shot between the legs of Peter Ramage.

Javi Lara, who was deservingly named the ‘Hero of the match’, will play a crucial role in Kolkata’s next game; an away trip to face high flyers FC Pune City.

#3 A high number of fouls and a sending off

Mehtab Hossain received his marching orders in the 89th minute.

It was a busy night for the officials with as many as 18 fouls committed between the two sides. Mehtab Hossain was the unfortunate player to receive his marching orders. Mehtab was a bundle of energy in midfield for Kerala Blasters, but could not channel his enthusiasm in a way to help Kerala’s cause. The Bengali midfielder was booked with an initial yellow card on the 63rd minute, for a foul on his former teammate Iain Hume. He was sent packing back to the dressing room in the 89th minute after his cynical challenge on Atlético de Kolkata substitute, Valdo.

The Blasters will have to make do without team regular Mehtab for the upcoming home match as he will sit it out due to suspension. It will be an opportunity for the fans in yellow to see more of midfielders such as Antonio German and João Coimbra.

#4 The tireless Iain Hume

The tireless Iain Hume was a constant threat to the Blasters’ defence.

Kerala Blasters’ former talisman, Iain Hume returned to face his former employees and played his socks off. Hume who was Kerala Blasters’ top scorer last season with 11 goals, is known typically for his style of play, dropping into the centre and drawing the centre backs to him.

Though he ended the night goalless, Hume tirelessly covered acres of ground, even making up for his teammates’ errors on occasions. The Canadian striker, slid into the midfield plenty of times on the night, to hold up play. The small 5 feet 5-inch frame of Hume was also seen challenging aerial balls that were desperately knocked downfield from the back.

The unsung hero of the match, Iain Hume will want to add a few goals to his name, if he wants to match his stellar show from last year. Even still, manager Antonio Habas should be satisfied and contempt with performances like this.

#5 The King of Football in the stands

The King of Football, Pelé charmed the thousands present at the stadium and watching all over

It is not every day that the ‘The King of Football’ himself comes to town. Three-time World Cup winner with Brazil, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known popularly as Pelé, graced the Salt Late Stadium, Kolkata with his presence. The living legend, Pelé was rooting for the red and white stripes of Kolkata and was seen throwing around high-fives after Arata Izumi’s opening goal for Atlético. Pelé’s upcoming birthday was celebrated with much grandeur in Kolkata yesterday. The Black Pearl also felicitated the Mohun Bagan team he faced while he was playing for the New York Cosmos in 1977 at Kolkata.

The 75-year-old Pelé is the first of many International footballing icons, who will be paying a visit to watch the Indian Super League. More contemporary stars, Wayne Rooney and Fernando Torres are due to arrive in the subcontinent to popularise the sport.

Edited by Staff Editor

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