Sachin Tendulkar co-owned Kerala Blasters got their maiden win of ISL 2016 as they recorded a 1-0 result against Mumbai City FC on Friday at the JLN Stadium in Kochi. Former Premier League forward Michael Chopra scored the only goal of the match and also, in the process, his first Indian Super League goal.
The Kerala side now have one win, two defeats and a draw this season.
First half of the match belonged to the home side, hands down. It was absolutely a spectacle to watch the Kerala Blasters carving out chances after chances right from the first whistle. Mohammad Rafi, Kervens Belfort and Chopra effortlessly dictated the play in their attacking third and Mumbai City goalkeeper Roberto Volpato was in all sorts of pressure.
Coming into the game, the Tendulkar co-owned side hadn't scored any goal over their previous three ISL 2016 games and therefore, Steve Coppell made his intentions clear when he started with a 4-3-3 lineup. And that paid off.
Chopra and Rafi came dangerously close to scoring for the home team right before the half time but on both occasions, the ball missed the net by a whisker. Josu, who went back to the left back position, was accurate with his passes and deliveries and looked one of the brightest players in the field.
The crowd may have had been less for the match as the compared to the previous two games at the JLN Stadium but the determination and perseverance of the home team didn't lack a bit.
Kerala continued with the same momentum even after the second half and Mumbai just couldn't get a control of the game. The likes of Matias Defederico, Leo Costa and second half substitutes Jackichand Singh and Sony Norde tried their best but it was only Roberto and the Mumbai City back four, who were doing all the work.
Chopra finally got what he deserved in the 58th minute of the match and made Mumbai concede for the first time at ISL 2016. The former Premier League forward beat the offside trap by a whisker and slotted home comfortably a through ball from Belfort to get the opening blood for Kerala Blasters.
Northern Ireland international Aaron Hughes made an unreal goalline clearance in the 69th minute to deny Haiti international Norde a clear shot on goal, with the Kerala Blasters goalkeeper out of his position.
Lots of fouls were being committed by the away side and the likes of Aibor Khongjee, Facundo Cardozo and Sehnaj Singh received bookings for their clumsy mistimed tackles in the match.