A 74th minute strike by skipper Adrian Luna helped Kerala Blasters FC recorded their second straight win of the Indian Super League 2022-23 season as they beat visitors Jamshedpur FC by 1-0 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Sunday.
The Uruguayan attacking midfielder was the point of difference in a close encounter as he bagged his second goal of the campaign in this match.
An erratic Jamshedpur backline handed the Blasters their first real goal-scoring opportunity in the game. Ivan Vukomanovic’s strategy and Kerala’s midfield is to be credited for that too. As Jamshedpur FC struggled to clear the ball for once and for all, Jeakson Singh pressed high, recovered possession and played a short pass to Luna from several yards outside the box.
The Uruguayan star had ample to space to dribble closer to the goal and take a shot. However, he opted for an unconventional approach, instead choosing to chip the ball over Jamshedpur goalkeeper Rehenesh TP’s head. Instead, the ball lobbed over the post.
Jamshedpur maintained a sustained period of offensive pressure for a brief period thereafter. One of those moves brought them within an inch of breaking the deadlock, courtesy of a headed effort by Seiminlen Doungel.
Nikhil Baria found significant space on the right flank and used that to curl in a cross for Doungel that landed slightly wide off the post from his head. Daniel Chima Chukwu ran and kept the ball in play, trying to lay up a square pass for the young winger again but it was thwarted by the Kerala backline eventually.
Jamshedpur FC was determined to find the back of the net immediately after the halftime break. Substitute Emil Benny received the ball on the right-hand side and sent in a probing delivery to Jeremy Manzorro on the left-sided channel of the 18-yard box.
Manzorro tried to half-volley the ball into the net on his first touch but couldn’t give it the right direction as it ended up being way wide off the crossbar. 15 minutes later, Chukwu controlled a free-kick on the move and tried to get the ball past the Kerala goalkeeper Sachin Suresh, but to no avail.
Finally, it was Luna who landed the decisive blow thanks to a cohesive attacking effort by Daisuke Sakai, Dimitrios Diamantakos, and him. Sakai played a quick pass to Diamantakos inside the box, who back heeled the ball to Luna. The 31-year-old calmly placed the ball on the bottom left corner amidst a thunderous cheer from the home crowd for a goal that guaranteed them three points from this contest.
Kerala Blasters FC will now travel to Mumbai to take on the Islanders in their own backyard on October 8. Meanwhile, Jamshedpur FC’s next match will be at their home against Hyderabad FC on October 5.