Kerala´s hopes hanging by a thread after Pune defeat
Kochi, December 7: Kerala Blasters FC´s dry run at home in the Hero Indian Super League continued but this time it got worse as they were handed a 1-0 defeat by FC Pune City at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi, on Friday.
Kerala have been winless at home this season and have not picked up full points since their opening round win against ATK. Fans have been hoping there would be a turnaround but instead it were Pune City who registered only their second win of the campaign.
The only goal of the match came in the 20th minute from Marcelinho. The win takes Pune to eighth spot and are now only a point off Kerala who remain a spot above. Blasters are winless in 10 games now.
After a nervy start, the match sprang to life in the seventh minute when Robin Singh placed the ball on a platter for Marcelinho off Nim Dorjee Tamang´s forward pass. With Anas Edathodika dragged out of position, the Brazilian forward charged into space and had just the goalkeeper to beat from inside the box. Dheeraj Singh closed down the angle and pulled off a terrific reflex save to deny Pune an early lead.
Kerala threatened at the other end a minute later. After a crisp interchange of passes between Sahal Samad and Courage Pekuson on the edge of the box, the latter picked out Slavisa Stojanovic´s run behind the defence with a delightful lob which the striker failed to connect with his outstretched right leg.
The visitors opened the scoring in the 20th minute through a deflected effort from Marcelinho. Ashique Kuruniyan cut inside from the left flank and fed the forward with a through-ball into the box. Marcelinho´s shot took a wicked deflection off Anas´ legs and found the bottom right corner.
Kerala saw a lot of the ball for the rest of the half as they battled to find an equaliser. However, Pune´s defence looked unusually solid as they kept the home side at bay.
The home side upped the ante after the restart and restricted the visitors to efforts from outside the box. One such shot by Marko Stankovic, however, flew inches wide of the post in the 59th minute.
The ever-present Sahal Samad went close from Zakeer´s corner-kick a few minutes later. The delivery was headed just wide at the near post by the Kerala-born youngster.
Kerala had made a habit of getting equalisers late in the game but this time, it was not to be as Kamaljit Singh came up with a splendid save off a Jhingan header, while Vineeth hit the post to cap off a frustrating night for David James´ side.
Full-time: Kerala Blasters 0-1 Pune City
89 Substitution for Kerala Blasters, Holi Charan Narzary OFF Suraj Rawat IN
78: Substitution for FC Pune City, Nim Dorjee Tamang OFF Martín Damián Díaz Pena IN
75: Substitution for Kerala Blasters, Courage Pekuson OFF Prasanth Karuthadathkuni IN
68: Substitution for FC Pune City, Ashique Kuruniyan OFF Nikhil Poojari IN
58: Yellow card Slavisa Stojanovic
54: Yellow card Marko Stankovic
52: Substitution for FC Pune City, Marcelo Leite Pereira OFF Marko Stankovic IN
50: Yellow card Sahil Panwar
46: Substitution Kerala Blasters, Seminlen Doungel OFF Chekiyot Kizhakkeveettil Vineeth IN
46: Second half kick-off
Half-time: Kerala Blasters 0-1 Pune City
21: Yellow card Adil Khan
20: Goal! Marcelo Leite Pereira scores for FC Pune City l
11: Yellow card Sarthak Golui
1: First half kick-off
Pune City subs: Vishal Kaith, Ashutosh Mehta, Martin Diaz, Marko Stankovic, Mohammed Yasir, Shankar Sampingiraj, Nikhil Poojary.
FC Pune City line-up: Kamaljit Singh; Nim Dorjee Tamang, Sarthak Golui, Matt Mills, Sahil Panwar; Adil Khan, Jonathan Vila; Robin Singh, Marcelinho, Ashique Kuruniyan; Iain Hume.
Kerala Blasters subs: Naveen Kumar, Lalruatthara, Mohamad Rakip, Prasanth K, Suraj Rawat, CK Vineeth, Matej Poplatnik.
Kerala Blasters line-up: Dheeraj Singh; Sandesh Jhingan, Anas Edathodika, Nemanja Lakic-Pesic, Cyril Kali; Sahal Abdul Samad, Zakeer Mundampara; Seiminlen Doungel, Courage Pekuson, Halicharan Narzary; Slavisa Stojanovic.