New Delhi: A Diamantakos Dimitrios penalty proved to be the decisive goal as Kerala Blasters prevailed over Punjab Football Club in a Round 10 match of the Indian Super League which is being played here at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Blasters consolidated their second position in the table while Punjab suffered their fifth loss of the season and remain on 11th in the table.
Punjab FC Head Coach Staikos Vergetis made just one change to the starting lineup with Madih Talal coming in place of the injured Juan Mera. Blasters missed the services of their dynamic captain Adrian Luna who had suffered an injury in training. Naocha Singh who was a member of PFC’s I-League winning side also started against his former side.
It was a tentative start to the first half as both teams tried to settle in cold conditions. It was a midfield battle for possession with both teams trying to control proceedings from the center of the pitch. The home side’s attacks went through Madih Talal who had to be brought down multiple times for his momentum to be broken.
Krishnananda Singh found himself free in the left wing, but instead of squaring the ball inside the box, the winger’s attempt flew over the bar. Blasters had a similar opportunity on the other end with Kwame Peprah in a dangerous position inside the box but his cross was expertly defended by the PFC defence. Blasters started gaining momentum in the attacking front and dominated possession but could not create any clear cut chances as the home defence stood strong.
The away carried forward the momentum in the beginning of the second half and earned a penalty as a result. Mohammed Aimen was tripped inside the box by Khaiminthang Lhungdim and Greek forward Diamantakos Dimitrios converted the resultant penalty to give Blasters the lead. Blasters hit the woodwork twice in the space of seconds, first Vibin Mohanan of a free kick and then of a header from the rebound as the away side ramped up the pressure on the Shers.
PFC gaffer brought in three changes in the 58th minute bringing in Colombian forward Wilmar Jordan Gil for Madih Talal, Kingslee Fernandes for Ashis Pradhan and Prasanth K. Mohan in place of Tekcham Abhishek Singh to shore up the attack. The changes did not make any effect on the game as Kerala continued to create chances. PFC keeper Kiran Kumar Limbu pulled out an excellent save from an attempt by Pritam Kotal who was found expertly by the impressive Vibin. Kerala kept control of the game with Mark Leskovic and Milos Drincic keeping the PFC attackers Luka Majcen and Wilmar Jordan on bay allowing the big forwards little space to work on. The introduction of Leon Augustine brought some speed in the wings and Jordan was also showing his strength up front but still there were no clear chances for the home side to trouble Kerala keeper Sachin Suresh, whose handling was exceptional throughout the match. PFC tried hard for the equalizer in the final minutes of the game but the Blasters held on to the solitary goal which proved to be the winner.
Punjab FC have five points from ten matches while Kerala Blasters FC have twenty points from ten matches. Punjab FC will face Chennaiyin FC in their next match on 14th December at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi.