Kerala Blasters were back in action again when they took on Mumbai City FC at Kochi on match day 5. It was the first game for Mumbai and it was a big test for them against Kerala who were looking to make it two wins out of two. The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium was full again and filled with yellow shirts. Many new faces made their debuts for Mumbai and in the ISL as well with the likes of Chermiti and Larbi.
Mumbai were the ones who made a positive start to the half. A simple ball over the Kerala defense on the 3rd minute put Chermiti through on goal, who was caught from the back by Zuiverloon in the box. But all penalty appeals were ignored by the referee and play continued. Diego Carlos put in a ball again from the flanks for Larbi who put his effort wide. It was Carlos again with an optimistic attempt on goal from the flank. The first real opportunity for Kerala came on 24’ from a set piece. Ogbeche got his head first to the ball but placed it off target.
Diego Carlos however was giving the Kerala left flank a tough time with his lung busting runs and skills. Kerala’s next chance again came from a set piece delivered by Cidoncha. Jairo met the ball in the air and placed it on target, which was however straight at the keeper. It was a regulation save for Amrinder in goal for Mumbai on 42’.Mumbai were forced into a substitution with an injury to Grgic on 42’. Machado too was taken off and Sougou came on. Jairo again headed a ball from a corner kick which flew across the face of the goal only for Gning to handle it with his hands. Both teams went into the break at 0-0.
Second half kicked off, with Mumbai again starting off the better team. Larbi was released on the left flank who delivered a ball into the box which found its way to Sougou. Sougou placed his first time effort wide of the upright on 52’. A Kerala corner on the 62nd minute which was cleared by the Mumbai defense fell to feet of the left back Jessel. Jessel’s extraordinary effort from distance had Amrinder back tracking and pushing it inches above the crossbar.
With 10 minutes to go, the game witnessed its first goal. Souvik put in a weak ball into the box, which deflected off a defender and rolled straight to Chermiti. The Tunisian struck it beautifully keeping it on the ground beating keeper Bilal. There was nothing he could do about it. It was 0-1 to Mumbai.
Minutes later, Kerala failed to clear a simple long ball from Mumbai. There was confusion between Bilal and Jairo which ultimately led to them tackling each other. With Bilal out of his area, Kevyn failed to make the most of the opportunity by missing an open goal. It was bizarre defending by the home team.
The best chance of the game came fell to Kerala in the dying minutes of extra time. A ball played in by Sahal, was controlled and hit first time on the turn by Ogbeche from the 6 yards out. Amrinder however pulled an absolutely stunning save. “Save of the season” already?
Referee blew the whistle for full time and Mumbai took all three points in their first outing. But this was possible only because of the world class save by Amrinder. Chermiti was awarded the “Hero of the Match” for his decisive goal which gave them all three points.