Welcome to another rambling match report. To sum everything up for you, Kerala Blasters FC had a chance to fortify their third position on the table and get closer to Atletico De Kolkata. For Atletico De Kolkata, it was all about striking back at Chennaiyin FC to claim their top spot back. Both teams made some interesting changes. Kerala Blasters FC brought on Pedro Adriano Veloso Gusmao, a decision that would prove to be inspired. Atletico De Kolkata, surprisingly, chose to bench their captain Luis Garcia*
A Kerala Blasters FC Goal That Was More about the Cross than the Shot
As expected Atletico De Kolkata started the game better than Kerala Blasters FC. Fikru got the first major opportunity of the game as he was set free with a chip pass. Unfortunately, he let the ball bounce which allowed Kerala Blasters FC’s ISL marquee player David James to set himself up for a save.
Fikru would, in a minute, regret his miss even more as Kerala Blasters FC went up and scored. Gusmao beat the Kolkata right back, Baljit Sahni, to put in a tasty cross which lured Subhasish Roy Chowdhury without actually being in his reach. The ball eluded the Kolkata keeper and a number of other players before falling to Iain Hume who trickled it into the goal. The ball took very long to cross the goal line** but the keeper was in no man’s land and there was no defender to cover for him. Kerala Blasters FC 1 – 0 Atletico De Kolkata.
There were shouts for offside because Stephen Paul Pearson was at the goal line. The shouts were pointless and half-hearted because he didn’t touch the ball. Those of you claiming it still to be an offside need to understand that unless the player interferes with the play he cannot be called offside. Think of it like this. Had the Kerala player not been there, would the goal have still happened? It would have, so it wasn’t an offside.
Atletico De Kolkata Huff and Puff But Couldn’t Bring the Keralite House Down
This was a period when Kerala Blasters FC were in control up until they actually pulled back a little to defend their lead. They were still counterattacking with some style though. However, it was Kolkata who had the possession dominance. They also slowly started gaining ground on the pitch and pegging back Kerala Blasters FC. These are situations for which David James has been brought in and he didn’t disappoint. He came for and collected all the possible shots, crosses, and corners. He was always in command of his area.
One pattern was repetitive. Fikru kept making runs between the two Kerala central defenders. Combined with their high line, this brought them many tense moments. Still, Kerala Blasters FC had the better chances. One was especially notable because of three consecutive shots. Cross came in to Hume on the right who controlled it and cut it back into the middle. Pearson was there to take a shot that Roy saved. The ball spilled to the left at a tight angle. The shot came in again but Roy stood up to that one as well. Wonderful goalmouth moment with good play from everyone involved.
Kerala Fans Spur Their Team Onwards
David James, before the game, had said a lot about the Keralite support*** at home. He was spot on because Kerala fans were something else throughout the game.
Kerala Blasters FC then scored their second goal just before the stroke of halftime. Gusmao controlled and turned in a cross. It was an opportunistic goal but he was unmarked in the box. Kerala Blasters FC 2 – 0 Atletico De Kolkata.
With such a one-sided score after the first 45 minutes, Habas the Henchman needed to bring out the big guns. At the very least, he needed to bring on his shotgun – Luis Garcia.
Atletico De Kolkata Claw Their Way Back Into the Game
Habas the Henchman knew what he needed as well because he did bring on Luis Garcia. The effect was immediate. Atletico De Kolkata looked more potent in midfield and in the final third and Luis Garcia was controlling everything. In 55th minute, Luis Garcia’s influence showed as the Kerala defence made their first major mistake. They failed to clear a harmless ball that was lapped up and stroked in by Fikru with ease. Kerala Blasters FC 2 – 1 Atletico De Kolkata.
It was game on from that point on. Kerala Blasters FC needed to buck themselves up to counter the influence of Luis Garcia. They chose to take a direction that I didn’t expect. They simply started slowing the game down and using a number of timewasting and keep ball tactics.
Kerala Blasters FC brought on an interesting player when Gusmao suffered from debilitating cramps at 75 minutes. The player on was Michael Chopra a British national with an Indian father. He looked skilful but too overweight to me. Chopra likes his Eggs Benedict with greasy aaloo paranthas. Looking at him, you would think it was his mother who was Indian and not his father. For heaven’s sake, you could see his tummy through his jersey!
You’ve got to Feel Bad for Atletico De Kolkata
The next moment of note was a cross from Godwin Franco of Kerala which morphed into a shot in the air and bounced on Kolkata’s cross bar before coming back in. Atletico De Kolkata, by this time, were looking dead on their collective feet. Luis Garcia was already tired. Borja was dragging his heels. And Fikru was virtually non-existent.
The best controversy of the ISL showed up in the 93rd minute. Cross came in from the left and Fikru headed it back towards Luis Garcia. Garcia shot from a tight angle. The keeper got a hand on it; the ball hit the underside of the crossbar, before bouncing behind the goal line. It bounced out and the referees didn’t give Kolkata a goal! It was a foot inside the goal line! I have never seen anyone express disbelief as intensely as Garcia did once he realised that he wasn’t going to get a goal.
I think it wasn’t to be Atletico De Kolkata’s night. After you see something like that, it’s just impossible to make love to the Lady Luck. I think Atletico De Kolkata’s players hate the Lady Luck so much right now that they must be positively feeling homosexual.
That was the last significant moment of the game. Atletico De Kolkata remain off the top of the table and Kerala solidify 3rd position in the league.
*Possibly because of lack of fitness.
**Almost as long as Indian trains take to reach their destination
***There were more than 57,000 people in the ground. That’s the highest attendance in the Indian Super League till now.