FULL-TIME: Delhi Dynamos FC 2-0 Kerala Blasters FC
Delhi Dynamos FC: 29′ Gianni Zuiverloon (Assist: Rene Mihelic); 90’+4 Rene Mihelic (Penalty).
Another poor performance by Kerala Blasters, another vibrant attacking performance by Delhi Dynamos, but this time around the hosts made it count to pick up all three points.
With Delhi letting go of Serbian striker Andrija Kaluđerović in the winter break, they started the game with Rene Mihelic playing as the furthest man forward. The new signing Ulises Davila took up the position behind him while Chhangte and Nanda Kumar positioned themselves in the wide areas. In defence, they set themselves up with three at the back with the Spanish keeper Dorronsoro between the sticks.
The opening minutes of the game were mostly centered around midfield as the teams cautiously trudged along. It was Delhi who found their feet first and opened the scoring in the 29th minute from a corner thanks to some abysmal defending by Kerala. Mihelic’s corner found the feet (Notice I said ‘feet.’) of the Delhi defender Zuiverloon and with no one marking him found the net with ease.
After going 1-0 up, Delhi continued to twist and turn Kerala with Chhangte (Top Creator tonight: xG) the tormentor-in-chief. Chhangte who wasn’t picked in the Indian team for the AFC Asian Cup is the top Indian creator in the league (Top Creators xG). Also, with four goals, he is the second highest Indian goalscorer in the league after the Indian captain Sunil Chhetri.
Alongside the impressive Chhangte, Marcos Tebar controlled the midfield, Nanda Kumar impressed and the new signing Ulises Davila looked the part.
Kerala for the most part of the game looked clueless playing in a new system under Nelo Vingada. The players seemed to have lost desire with nothing to play for as was evident with their defending for the goal they conceded. A few chances came their way with the defender Lakic-Pesic heading a chance onto the bar and Jhingan’s attempt getting blocked – apart from that there were mostly half-chances which the Blasters with the form they are in could do precious little.
The Delhi side created almost five times as many chances (xG: 2.37) as Kerala. They got a second goal late in second half stoppage time from a penalty. Lalruatthara was sent off for bringing down Chhangte in the box after the Mizo winger was 1v1 with the keeper. Mihelic stepped up and scored from the spot to seal all three points and get an improbable clean sheet for the Dynamos.
With the win, Delhi move into eighth position on the table and they are not far off from qualifying for the Super Cup. Although their finishing can be a point for nitpicking tonight as well, they are an attractive team to watch with bags of potential. Kerala on the other hand see themselves slide into ninth and it’s been so long since they’ve won a game, they’ve forgotten how to and what it feels like.