Kerala Blasters could not have dreamt of a better start to their Indian Super League (ISL) 2015 campaign as they turned on the heat to win their first home game against NorthEast United FC 3-1 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Tuesday.
The expectations were always high for the Blasters, and 60,000 fans got right behind their home side along with the co-owner Sachin Tendulkar.
The first half ended goalless as neither side could break the deadlock. Although there were plenty of chances created by both the teams, none were converted into a goal.
But looking at the pace and gameplay, one would have definitely anticipated that there would be a goal or two in the second half of the high-voltage match.
"We played well but I think we could play a lot better. In the first half, I think we played bad. We could have scored two or three goals," Kerala Blaster head coach Peter Taylor said at the post-match press conference.
NorthEast United kept their defence intact until a screamer of a volley slammed into the left-top-corner of the net. North East United FC defenders left so much space for the Spaniard Josu to take that volley and open the scoring for the home side in the 49th minute.
Mohammed Rafi headed one into the net to extend Blasters' lead in th 68th minute of the game. It was indeed an ecstatic homecoming for Rafi.
Four minutes later, Sanchez Watt took advantage of a wonderful headed pass from Rafi and the former Arsenal man made no mistake in finding the back of the net.
Nicolas Velez added his name to the goalscoring list in the 82nd minute, but that was not enough for the visitors to cause worry for the Kerala Blasters.
"We're not disappointed at all. It was a tough game but we're here to improve our game and constantly tumbling down does not help. I take full responsibility for the result and we've got to work on our weaknesses," Highlanders head coach Cesar Farias said.