Kerala Blasters were handed their fourth successive draw in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2018 after being held by FC Pune City 1-1 at the Shiv Chhatrapati Shivaji stadium in Pune on Friday.
A class strike from Marko Stankovic (13´) got Pune City up and running only to see Nikola Krcmarevic (62´) pull Kerala Blasters level in the second half. The result pulls Pune City, still without a win, off the bottom of the table temporarily while Kerala Blasters have moved up to the fifth spot with seven points from five games.
It were the visitors who got off to an energetic start with CK Vineeth testing the Pune City custodian Kamaljit Singh in the third minute. Kerala Blasters continued to pepper Kamaljit´s goal with shots but the goalkeeper denied Vineeth and Slavisla Stojanovic in the space of minutes.
Against the run of play, Pune City drew first blood in the 13th minute through a stunning strike from Stankovic. The Austrian gained possession in midfield before finding the top corner from about 30 yards out with a terrific left-footer.
The goal infused some confidence into Pune who should have doubled their lead when Emiliano Alfaro missed a free-header from Stankovic´s free-kick.
Pradyum Reddy´s side began to sit back, however, and play on the counter. Alfaro and Marcelinho did pose a threat on the break but Kerala were not without opportunities themselves. Sahal Abdul Samad imposed himself in midfield while Nikola Krcmarevic almost bundled the ball home following a scramble.
Kerala continued to attack Pune City in the second-half but it were Pune City who were handed a glorious chance to double their lead. Krcmarevic was adjudged to have pushed Alfaro in the box and the referee awarded a spot-kick. The Uruguayan, however, sent his effort crashing against the bar, much to Kerala´s relief. Crucially, Alfaro had missed a penalty against FC Goa in the previous game as well.
Six minutes later, Pune were made to pay for that miss when Krcmarevic lashed a loose ball from a half-cleared corner home from inside the box.
Pune showed a bit more urgency in their bid to find a winner while Kerala also endeavoured to find one. But it was not to be as both teams shared the spoils
Full-time: FC Pune City 1-1 Kerala Blasters
90: Four minutes added time
86: Yellow card Emiliano Alfaro Toscano
82: Substitution Sahal Abdul Samad OFF Lalruatthara IN
82: Substitution Cyril Kali OFF Courage Pekuson IN
75: Yellow card Chekiyot Kizhakkeveettil Vineeth
72: Yellow card Lalchhuanmawia Fanai
68: Substitution Seminlen Doungel Holi OFF Charan Narzary IN
65: Substitution Robin Singh OFF Ashique Kuruniyan IN
61: Goal!! Nikola KrCmareviC scores for Kerala Blasters
57: Penalty Miss Emiliano Alfaro Toscano
47: Yellow card Adil Khan
46: Second half kick-off
Half-time: FC Pune City 1-0 Kerala Blasters
33: Yellow card Sandesh Jhingan
26: Substitution for Pune City, Marko Stankovic OFF Alwyn George IN
13: Goal!! Marko Stankovic scores for FC Pune City
1: First half kick off
Kerala subs: Dheeraj Singh (GK), Anas Edathodika, Lalruatthara, Courage Pekuson, Halicharan Narzary, Keziron Kizito, Zakeer Mundampara
Kerala Blasters line-up: Naveen Kumar (GK), Mohammad Rakip, Sandesh Jhingan, Nemanja Lakic-Pesic, Cyril Kali, Nikola Krcmarevic, Sahal Abdul Samad, Seiminlen Doungel, CK Vineeth, Slavisa Stojanovic, Matej Poplatnik
Pune City subs: Vishal Kaith (GK), Martin Diaz, Nim Dorjee Tamang, Alwyn George, Shankar Sampingraj, Jakob Vanlalhlimpuia, Ashique Kuruniyan
FC Pune City line-up: Kamaljit Singh (GK), Ashutosh Mehta, Matt Mills, Gurtej Singh, Lalchhuanmawia Fanai, Adil Khan, Marko Stankovic, Jonathan Vila, Robin Singh, Marcelinho, Alfaro