Chennai was drenched yesterday, when widespread heavy rains lashed most city areas. The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium was logged with water and ISL organizers were worried about the upcoming game between Chennaiyin FC and Kerala Blasters on Tuesday October 21. But the superb efforts by the grounds men ensured that the keenly awaited contest between southern India’s two ISL clubs went on schedule. An exciting football show delighted the fans, who had gathered at the Nehru stadium and more so because the home side, owned by Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan emerged victorious. Though Kerala lost the game, they came up with an unyielding performance until Bernard Mendy produced an amazing goal for Chennaiyin FC in the 63rd minute and that made the decisive difference.
The match began with Kerala Blasters mounting an attack on Chennaiyin FC. Balwant Singh was in a great position in the box was his superb header missed the target narrowly to KB’s utter disappointment. In the 8th minute, KB’s Gurwinder Singh was shown yellow card for a deliberate tackle in which Singh struck Chennai’s Bojan Djordjic in his guts. Kerala earned a long-distance free-kick but Avinabo Bag’s strike went wide off the post. In the meanwhile Chennai found an attacking opportunity in the 13th minute and there was another dangerous tackle from Kerala’s Gurwinder Singh. He was lucky to get away with another card for making a flying tackle on Chennai’s Abhishek Das but the referee found Gurwinder’s action too objectionable and pointed for the spot-kick, though the visitors were unhappy with the decision. Chennaiyin FC went 1-0 ahead, when Brazilian star Elano Blumer slotted the ball to the right bottom corner of the net. Until the halftime, Chennaiyin FC didn’t allow KB to mount any serious threat on their goal, except one stinging volley from Victor Pulga that sailed above the crossbar. The teams took the breather with Chennai leading 1-0.
As the game resumed after the break, KB desparately attempted an equalizer and in the 50th minute, they got their reward. Kerala had earned a corner and from the kick by Victor Herrero Forcada, Iain Hume made a smart conversion. It wasn’t a straightforward goal but Hume got the ball second time after a melee in front of the goalmouth. Hume was two feet away when he got the ball once again and his smash gave KB a deserved equalizer. But after taking that rewarding corner kick Forcada developed cramps and had to be stretchered out of the ground. He was replaced by Stephen Pearson. Soon afterwards, KB captain, Penn Ikechukwu Orji also suffered an injury and he was substituted by Michael Chopra. There was some drama on the field as players from either side got engaged in a heated scuffle after Stephen Pearson stuck his leg into Denson’s thigh and the referee penalized Kerala with a free-kick. The exchanges from both sides continued for a while albeit without any fruitful result. In the 63rd minute, Chennaiyin FC took a 2-1 lead, when Bernard Mendy came up with a scintillating bicycle kick that stunned the KB custodian.
The match had one more ugly moment, when there was another fight between the players from both sides. The referee showed a yellow card to KB’s Nirmal Chettri even as KB kept up the pressure for equalizing the score but their game became a story of missed chances in the second half. Another yellow card greeted Elano for hurling the ball on Michael Chopra. The closest chance that Kerala got for the second equalizer was when they had an indirect free kick but that went in vain. It was the second consecutive victory for Chennaiyin FC in the tournament but KB are still looking to get off in the Hero India Super League. They are a talented side and the league is a long drawn affair. Therefore, KB need not be disappointed yet since it is still early days for them in the league.