Kerala Blasters FC moved within a point of semi-final qualification with a convincing 3-1 victory over Mumbai City FC in the ISL game at Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco, Goa. The win propels them into the top four two points clear of Mumbai City FC with just one game left in the league stage.
Sahal Abdul Samad (19′) launched the Blasters with an early goal before Alvaro Vazquez’s double (45′(P), 60′) put them in control. Diego Mauricio (71′ (P)) gave hope to the defending champions but Ivan Vukomanovic’s men held on to take three precious points.
However, the game could have had a whole different complexion if Bombay City F.C. awarded a penalty in the 7th minute for what looked like a clear foul on Brad Inman.
But the Blasters took control of the proceedings and closed five minutes later when Sandeep Singh, who latched on to a pass from Adrian Luna, shot him into the side netting from a tight angle.
Kerala Blasters FC made the breakthrough in the 19th minute when Sahal danced into space on the edge of the box before sending a low shot past Nawaz which was caught off guard through Sahal’s disguised effort. The game got a bit physical as the half faded as tackles came in from both sides.
But the Blasters who had looked more threatening throughout the half were awarded a 45th-minute penalty which was converted by Vazquez to give his team a 2-0 halftime lead. Des Buckingham returned to a back three by bringing in Vikram Partap Singh for Mandar Rao Dessai for the second half, but the Blasters continued to look sharp. Luna forced Nawaz into a clean save after a smart move ended with him firing from range.
Kerala Blasters FC then added a third goal on the hour mark when Nawaz completely missed a back pass from Mourtada Fall to allow Vazquez a simple tap-in into the empty net. Mumbai City FC were given a lifeline when substitute Diego Mauricio was fouled in the penalty area in the 69th minute. Mauricio stepped up his conversion to bring the Islanders back into the game.
Mumbai City FC started throwing numbers trying to reduce the deficit and left themselves open at the back. Rahul KP nearly took advantage of this as he headed off a Luna cross just wide of the target. The Blasters nearly restored their three-goal cushion three minutes later when Luna’s free kick had to be knocked down the bar by Nawaz. The keeper was then on alert to save Vazquez’s effort on the rebound.
Mumbai City FC threw the kitchen sink at the Blasters but couldn’t find a goal. The Islanders will now face Hyderabad FC in their next game on Saturday. If you don’t win this game, Kerala Blasters FC will advance to the semi-finals before they even face FC Goa in their final game on Sunday.
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