Delhi Dynamos resumed their 2018-’19 Indian Super League season with a 2-0 win over 10-man Kerala Blasters on Thursday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
A period of sustained pressure in the first half helped the hosts take the lead through Gianni Zuiverloon. The home team stood firm to deal with the visitors’ threat in the second half to sealed their second win of the season when Rene Mihelic converted a penalty to make it 2-0.
The three points helped Delhi Dynamos climb above Kerala Blasters to the eighth spot in the ISL standings courtesy of a head-to-head advantage. Josep Gombau’s team has 10 points from 13 matches and Kerala have the same tally, having played a game more. Also, Kerala are now winless in 13 matches in the ISL.
Delhi’s new signing Ulises Davila announced his arrival in the 15th minute. The Mexican forward made room for a shot at the edge of the box with a fine touch before dispatching an attempt that went wide.
The hosts asserted themselves in the game as the minutes went by. Davila’s movement caused the Kerala centre-backs trouble once again in the 24th minute. Lallianzuala Chhangte latched onto a pass on the left flank and delivered a teasing cross for Davila who sneaked in between Nemanja Lakic-Pesic and Sandesh Jhingan but failed to hit the target from close-range.
Delhi broke the deadlock from a set-piece in the 29th minute. Mihelic’s out-swinging delivery found Zuiverloon unmarked inside the box and the defender volleyed the ball home to give his team the lead.
A minute later, an excellent drilled cross by Nandakumar Sekar from the right flank provided Mihelic with a chance to double his team’s lead but the Slovenian blazed his effort over the bar.
Kerala almost clawed their way back into the game a minute after the restart. Stojanovic’s free-kick was headed on target by Lakic-Pesic but his looping effort was denied by the crossbar.
A low throw-in by Cyril Kali in the 53rd minute caused confusion inside the box for the Delhi defence. Shubham Sarangi missed his attempt to clear, allowing Poplatnik to hit the ball on the turn but the striker shot wide.
In the 72nd minute, another failed clearance, this time from a corner at the other end, allowed Chhangte to put his foot through the loose ball but the winger ended up slicing his effort into the side-netting.
A scrappy period of football ensued in the final minutes and the Delhi defence stood firm to prevent a late Kerala comeback.
A poor backpass by Sahal Samad in the final minute of injury time allowed Chhangte through on goal. Lalruatthara brought the forward down inside the box in an attempt to avert danger and instead, picked up a red card and conceded a penalty. Mihelic stepped up and scored from 12 yards as Delhi sealed the win.