Kerala Blasters FC hosted Atletico de Kolkata today (17/11/2017) in the Hero Indian Super League season 4 at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi.
Last year’s finalists started off this year’s season with a stylish inaugural pre-match ceremony hosted by bollywood filmstars Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif. ATK kicked-0ff the season 4 game with a calm and positive start, with looking for more ball position whereas the hosts seemed looking for goal everytime and eventually loosing the ball. As ATK kept on passing the ball around, one miss pass in the midfield in the second minute gave Kerala Blaster’s midfielder Ongnam a chance to get on the ball and take a shot. Due a weak attempt, Ongnam failed to make any damage on visitor’s goal. Immediately in the next minute Ognman again tried a long ranger on the goal. A good play by Kerala’s new signing Berbatov was cut down by ATK’s defense and eventually ball coming to Ongnam who attempted for a shot which was off target.
It took 6 minutes for the visitors to make an attempt on Blaster’s goal. The attack coming in from the right by Prabir was neatly cut down by the hosts left back and conceding a corner instead. At 8 minutes 20 seconds, a confusion betweeen ATK’s Keegan and goalkeeper Majumdar made CK Vineeth to charge in to get the ball. Keegan wanted Majumdar to collect the ball in the box, whereas Majumdar thought Keegan would clear the ball. In the process, Kerala got a corner.
Ten minutes on the clock, ATK were very comfortable with ball, keeping the possession and passing the ball around, showing no urgency. As the series of passes went on, ATK created a chance inside Kerala’s box with the new boy Hitesh. Hitesh with a shot on goal was the first trigger pulled by the visitors on hosts goal. The shot was well saved by Kerala’s goalkeeper, Paul. As all the time, Kerala fans were present in full number and were on top of their voice supporting and celebrating the commencement of the new season. In the 18th minute, Hitesh again went on for the goal from the left with a good control and turn with the ball. But his attempt again made no damage to the Blaster’s goal. Paul comfortably collected the attempt shot.
In the 25th minute, ATK again knocked the doors with a cross coming in from the left of ATKby Keegan. In attempt of clearance and scoring, both team players could not make any actually contact with the ball. But it was cleared away by Blaster’s defense. At half hour mark, both the teams seemed to be composed and were keeping a good ball position whenever they got the ball. 40 minutes past and Keegan with a corner curls the ball in with his left close to the goal. Again Paul collects it well to cut off the danger. End to end actions were taking place by now with most of the players tired and few frustrated.
At half time scores were nil nil.
After the break, Kerala kicked-off the second half. This time Kerala also were playing a good passing game unlike the first half. In the 49th minute, CK Vineeth with a good dribble, shot the ball on the goal. But Majumdar pushed it away which came on to Hume and his attempt was poor and way off target. ATK in the 56th minute tried to score with a corner. Keegan with the corner again, finding his teammate well. But the header landed in Pail’s safe hands. ATK still had the upper hand in the ball position. ATK kept on moving the ball well and eventually Jose attempted a long ranger twice in 2 minutes gap, but both shots were off target and did not harm Blasters at all. With Robin coming in, Keegan, in 65th minute, with a low cross inside Kerala’s box found Robin, who desperately shot the ball into Blaster’s defender but got a corner for his team.
In the next minute Kerala boys tried to knock the ATK’s door with a counter attack. But ATK’s captain saved it with a perfect sliding tackle inside his box and getting the ball perfectly. It was Jose of visiting side again to have almost scored this time. In the 69th minute, with his long range effort from the left, he somehow manages to hit the far post. Kerala Blasters fans were in a mute mode for a second. ATK were in full attacking mode in 73rd minute when a series of attacks came in. The closest of them was a close cross in by Robin from the left trying to find Hitesh. Hitesh couldn’t get on the ball as he was a little ahead of the ball and pushed it out for Kerala’s goalkick.
In the 84th minute, the substitute Prashanth made a good run for home team, managed to cross in and find Mark. Mark shot it first time on the volley, but his shot hit the defender of ATK and went out. This was a good attempt by the hosts after a very long time. ATK and KBFC both held on to the ball well, but it was ATK who had a good ball possession. The last action of the game came in in extra time. In the 91st minute, a corner by Ongnam came in well in the ATk’s box, but Mark’s header was of no damage to the visitor’s goal.
At full time the score line stayed nil nil. Season’s opener turned out to be the first draw.