FULL-TIME: Kerala Blasters FC 3-0 Chennaiyin FC
Kerala Blasters FC: 23′ Matej Poplatnik (Header); 55′ Matej Poplatnik (Assist: S. Stojanovic); 71′ Sahal Abdul Samad.
Kerala Blasters picked their first home win in over a year as they made light work of a dull and uninspired Chennaiyin FC in Kochi.
The first goal could’ve come early on with Stojanovic and Poplatnik getting close. Chennai eventually conceded in the 23rd minute from a Karanjit Singh error. Courage Pekuson’s weak low cross into the box was palmed by the keeper at a nice height for Poplatnik who headed it in. Poplatnik who usually scores with headers couldn’t have been served better.
Karanjit Singh has done very little this season to stop the barrage of goals Chennai have conceded. They have let in more goals than any other team – 31; that’s nearly two goals a game.
The Running Sum graph indicates Kerala created a healthy amount of chances through the game. Their build up play was patient and Len Doungel who is the top Indian creator in the league this season troubled Chennaiyin with his pace and trickery. Stojanovic and Poplatnik got a few shots away and combined well tonight and in fact, it was the Serbian who setup Poplatnik for the second goal which came in the second half.
Sahal Abdul Samad found Stojanovic with a low cross across goal – Stojanovic pulled the ball back for Poplatnik to apply a sweet left-footed finish. The goal was a little controversial considering in the build up to it, Chennai’s Chris Herd was lying on the pitch injured.
Kerala added a third from a trademark run by Sahal Abdul Samad through midfield. Sahal passed it to Len Doungel around the box. Len’s return pass deflected, but still fell in the path of Sahal who smashed it in.
Tonight’s win was Kerala’s second win of the season; their only win prior to this was on the opening day of the season against ATK. Kerala have always created chances – they are third overall on the Team xG Leaderboard in terms of chances created. But lack of finishing ability and lapses in defence meant they couldn’t deliver on their promise.
The result was also a glimpse of what could’ve been with Sandesh Jhingan and Co stepping up and Dheeraj Singh keeping out anything which was beyond the Kerala defence.
Chennaiyin on the other hand have problems much alike Kerala. They don’t score enough goals and concede more when they do. This is their 12th defeat of the season and it’s an eye-watering stat for the faithful. With nothing to play for and lacking drive and purpose, they are firmly rooted at the bottom of the table.