Kerala Blasters ends 10-game winless streak against Goa
Kerala Blasters ended their 10-game winless streak that spanned six years, against Goa with an assertive 3-1 victory in the Indian Super League 2022-23 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi, their first since November 2016. Goals from Adrian Luna, Dimitrios Diamantakos, and Ivan Kaliuzhnyi within the space of ten minutes secured all three points for the Blasters while Noah Sadaoui scored for the Gaurs.
Gaffer Ivan Vukomanovic decided to back Sahal Abdul Samad who reclaimed his spot in the line-up as Saurav Mandal dropped to the bench for the hosts. Prabhsukhan Gill lined up in the goal for the Blasters whilst Hormipam Ruivah and Marko Lešković were the central defenders for the Tuskers, supported by Sandeep Singh and Nishu Kumar at the flanks.
The midfield was run by the quartet of Samad, Jeakson Singh, Kalyuzhnyi and Rahul KP with Samad and Rahul often also acting as wingers when the Blasters went into the attack. Luna and Diamantakos were the marksmen for the hosts.
For the visitors, Aibanbha Dohling replaced the injured Mohamed Fares Arnaout in defence, and Alvaro Vazquez was ushered straight into the starting eleven against his former club as Redeem Tlang dropped to the bench and Sadaoui moved to the wing.
Dheeraj Singh was the goalkeeper for Goa as he was accompanied by Dohling and Anwar Ali in the heart of Goa’s defense and was supported by Seriton Fernandes and Saviour Gama as the full-backs.
Edu Bedia was joined by Ayush Dev Chhetri in the defensive midfield position while the trio of Iker Guarrotxena, Brandon Fernandes, and Noah Sadaoui lined in front of the defensive duo as attacking options. They were all responsible for feeding the ball to Álvaro Vázquez who played as the lone striker for the visitors in the game.
Both sides’ defences were on top until the 42nd minute when Luna fired the hosts in front. Rahul KP’s cross from the right flank missed Luna’s diving header before it reached Samad. The winger’s off-balance shot rolled into the path of Luna who tapped it in from close range.
Decibels went through the roof moments later as the Blasters were awarded a penalty at the stroke of half-time. Anwar Ali took out Diamantakos after the Gaurs failed to clear their lines. The Greek striker stepped up to take it and sent Dheeraj Moirangthem the wrong way from the spot.
In the 52nd minute, Ivan Kalyuzhnyi went top of the ISL goals charts with a long-range screamer. Diamantakos squared the ball into the path of Kalyuzhnyi. The Ukrainian was allowed space and time to pull the trigger with his left foot and Dheeraj had no chance of stopping the curling effort.
The Gaurs pulled one back in the 67th minute. Seriton Fernandes found an unmarked Sadaoui with a lofted cross into the box. The winger kept his header on target and pulled a goal back for his side, but the Gaurs couldn’t manufacture any substantial chances after that one. The solitary goal helped Goa’s goal difference enough to retain the fourth spot.
The three points lifted Kerala Blasters up into fifth place, level on points with Goa. The Blasters will look to capitalise on this momentum when they visit Hyderabad on Saturday for their next game. The Gaurs will return to Fatorda for their next game against ATK Mohun Bagan on Sunday.