Kerala Blasters FC – 3 (Aimen 28’ 90’, Ajsal 55’) North East United FC – 0
Kerala Blasters secured their first win of the 131st Durand Cup, prevailing over NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) 3 – 0, in a Group D game played at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati. This is the third consecutive loss for the Highlanders in the tournament and they are as good as out, with the Blasters still in with a slim chance, having picked up four points from their three games so far. Muhammed Aimen scored a brace for the winners while Muhammed Ajsal scored the third.
Kerala Blasters began by pressing high and showing far more energy in the field. They were stitching short passes in the midfield and keeping the NEUFC defence on their toes. Vibin Mohanan and Muhammed Azhar controlled the midfield for the Blasters as they started to create chances in the opponent’s half.
The first clear cut chance came for the Blasters from a free-kick by Roshan Gigi, who found centre-back Tejas Krishna free in the box. The defender headed the ball over the net. Blasters found rhythm in their counter attacks and one such attack led to the first goal.
Muhammed Ajsal carried the ball through the left and found Gaurav Kankonkar on the edge of the box. His shot was blocked by the defender but the rebound fell to Muhammed Aimen, who slotted home.
Brilliant Kerala in the second half
The second half began with the Blasters in attack mode. Ajsal’s shot was saved by the NEUFC keeper. He and Gaurav Kankonkar were brilliant throughout the game, as they linked up well and created problems for the NEUFC defence.
The second goal came in the 55th minute through wonderful link-up play between Gaurav, Ajsal and Azhar. Azhar it was in the end who found Ajsal on the edge of the box and the latter hit the top corner with his weaker right foot to double the advantage for Kerala.
Kerala Blasters continued to attack and kept creating chances. Gaurav and Ajsal missed quite a few opportunities to increase the lead.
The third goal came as late as the 90th minute, when the brothers Azhar and Aimen combined. Azhar’s defence splitting pass for Aimen saw the latter rounding the keeper to score his second of the game.
Report- Pratyusha Mukherjee
Source: Indian Army