Kerala Blasters downed RoundGlass Punjab FC 3-1 in a Group A match of the Hero Super Cup at the EMS Corporation Stadium in Kozhikode, on Saturday, April 8, 2023.
The local side now head the group with three points from one outing, while Bengaluru FC and Sreenidi Deccan FC, who drew 1-1 in the day’s first match, have one point each. The Punjab side, despite their spirited display, returned to the dressing room empty-handed.
The two sides looked evenly matched in the first 30 minutes. Both teams had a couple of chances each to take the lead, but neither could find the breakthrough. While Sahal Abdul Samad took on the creative responsibilities for the Kerala side, youngsters like Valpuia and Maheson Singh Tongbram showed a glimpse of their technical abilities.
It was the team from God’s Own Country that broke the deadlock in the 41st minute. RoundGlass goalkeeper Kiran Limbu made a poor clearance inside the box, which was followed by an error by Valpuia. The defender committed the mistake of bringing down Saurav Mandal inside the box and the referee rightfully pointed towards the spot. Skipper Dimitrios Diamantakos made no mistake to put the ball into the back of the net giving his side a 1-0 lead before half time.
Following the break, Kerala Blasters looked the better side as they dominated the proceedings and enjoyed more of the ball possession. Centre half Bijoy V did particularly well in staving off the Punjab attack.
In the 54th minute, the Blasters doubled their lead, this time with Nishu Kumar getting on the scoresheet. The full-back saw himself with ample space inside the box to look at the target, dummy off a defender and place the ball into the back of the net to make it 2-0.
Courtesy of a couple of substitutions, the Hero I-League 2022-23 champions found their touch back and launched some forceful attacks. Juan Mera Gonzalez, one of the most hard-working players on the night, attempted a cross inside the box, which took a huge deflection and fell into the path of Krishnananda Singh. The attacker made no mistake in driving it in with a prompt volley to make it 2-1.
In the next five minutes, both sides came inches close to scoring. At one end, Blasters substitute Bidyashagar Singh saw his powerful attempt saved by Kiran Limbu. On the other hand, Juan Mera Gonzalez was denied by the crossbar as custodian Sachin Suresh used his fingertips to save the Spaniard’s attempt from outside the box.
Finally, local hero substitute Rahul KP put the game to bed by making it 3-1 for Kerala Blasters late in the additional time. The winger capitalised on a counter attack and smartly put it past the goalkeeper to hand his side the win.
In the next round of Group A on April 12, Wednesday, Kerala Blasters face off against Hero I-League side Sreenidi Deccan FC in Kozhikode. Meanwhile, RoundGlass Punjab FC will clash heads with Hero ISL 2022-23 finalists Bengaluru FC at the same venue.
AIFF Media Release