A Javi Hernandez late goal powers Bengaluru to a 1-0 win over Kerala Blasters

unnamed   2024 03 06T054649.022
Javi Hernandez of Bengaluru celebrates after scoring against Kerala Blasters

When it seemed that Bengaluru and Kerala Blasters would play a goalless draw, Javi Hernandez sprung up to score a late goal and power the hosts to a 1-0 win over Kerala Blasters at the Sree Kantaveera Stadium on Saturday. 

Bengaluru made three changes to the side that defeated Hyderabad 2-1 in their previous fixture. The team shifted to three men in the back with Aleksander Jovanovic returning to the starting line-up. Lalremtluanga Fanai and Shivaldo Singh found themselves out of favor for Suresh Singh Wangjam in the defensive midfield position. Sivasakthi Narayanan replaced Oliver Drost upfront to partner Sunil Chhetri as the strike duo.

Kerala Blasters coach Ivan Vukomanovic made two changes in the midfield to the side that defeated Goa 4-2 as Rahul KP and Jeakson Singh made way for Nihal Sudeesh and Danish Farooq. 

The hosts made a scintillating move in the 7th minute but could not apply the finishing touch. Naorem Roshan Singh overlapped on the left flank and crossed the ball towards Nikhil Poojary on the right flank. The latter tried to find Sunil Chhetri in the middle but the skipper failed to nod the ball home.

Kerala Blasters’ Danish Farooq went for glory a minute later from distance but his shot was inches wide off the crossbar. In the 19th minute, it was Ryan Williams who took a shot from a distance but the opposition defenders blocked his shot with their body. 

Bengaluru’s Ryan Williams was a menace in the first half 

Williams was once again in the thick of things in the 22nd minute when he released Roshan through on goal. However, rather than taking a shot, the latter decided to play a cut-back pass and lost possession. 

Javi Hernandez won a foul for Bengaluru at the edge of the box in the 32nd minute after Naocha Singh shoved him down. The Spaniard tried to find Chhetri with his cross but the latter failed to get to the end of it. 

Chhetri finally connected his header in the 36th minute after receiving a cross from the right flank but he failed to keep it on target this time. 

In the 43rd minute, Dimitrios Diamantakos took a shot from distance which took a wicked deflection off Slavko Damjanovic. However, Bengaluru goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu positioned himself perfectly to avert the danger. 

Bengaluru started the second half right from where they left in the first half. Suresh Singh Wangjam threaded a pass towards Javi Hernandez and the latter attempted a volley from the box but Milos Drincic blocked it in the 47th minute. 

In the 51st minute, Diamantakos released Mohammed Aimen who turned past his marker and powered a shot towards the bottom corner but Gurpreet dived to his right to parry the ball away. 

Bengaluru got a golden opportunity in the 68th minute when Ryan Williams made a cutting pass towards Chhetri from the left flank. However, the skipper failed to slide his body in time and make the connection. 

In the 87th minute, Vibin Mohanan combined well with Rahul KP as the latter crossed the ball towards the middle. Gurpreet palmed the ball away but the ricochet fell towards Fedor Cernych at the box. However, his final shot was blocked by a host of Bengaluru bodies. 

Bengaluru finally scored a late winner in the 89th minute when Shivaldo crossed the ball towards Javi at the edge of the box who buried the ball into the bottom corner with his first touch. All the home fans erupted in joy as Bengaluru clinched another home win over their arch-rivals Kerala Blasters. 

Bengaluru has a lengthy break at their disposal before travelling to Goa on 14th March. With 21 points from 18 matches, they would like to maintain their sixth spot and qualify for the playoffs once again. 

Kerala Blasters, on the other hand, missed a glorious opportunity to go past Goa and climb to the fourth spot in the points table. They have 29 points from 17 matches and will have to pull up their socks when they square off against Mohun Bagan Super Giant on 13th March.