FULL-TIME: Kerala Blasters FC 0-0 Northeast United FC
Northeast United FC: 23′ RED CARD (Gurwinder Singh).
A 10-man Northeast United FC battled hard to secure a point against Kerala Blasters and will finish the season in fourth place.
Having already secured a place in the play-offs, NEUFC were playing to see if they could usurp Mumbai City in third position; Kerala Blasters after a disastrous league campaign were looking for a result to end their campaign with a degree of positivity.
A red card in the 23rd minute changed the complexion of the game. Gurwinder Singh was sent off after being deemed as the last man when he tripped Poplatnik just outside the box. The referee’s call could be termed harsh and the decision gave the impetus immediately to Kerala Blasters.
The first half saw Kerala Blasters get close a couple of times; Courage Pekuson hit the post from just outside the box and Len Doungel was 1v1 with the keeper, but Pawan Kumar came out of goal to smother the shot.
The Highlanders had a great chance early in the second half when Panagiotis Triadis on a run on the left flank setup Fanai Lalrempuia in the box with a ball across. The Mizo midfielder was afforded time to pick his spot, but he ended up hitting it straight at the keeper. The attempt by Fanai was the only shot on target NEUFC had tonight.
As the top shooter bar graph indicates, Kerala got a number of shots away, but poor finishing let them down. Stojanovic had a shot on goal saved in the second half – the attempt picked up a wicked deflection, grazed the palms of the keeper and hit the post. That was the closest they got to a goal as the game ended scoreless.
Northeast United will take on Bengaluru FC in the 1st leg of the semi-final at home on March 7th and the second leg is scheduled to be played on the 11th of March.
The two-time ISL runners up Kerala Blasters on the other hand finish the league in ninth place in what has been a topsy-turvy season for them with a managerial change also part of the mix. Nelo Vingada who replaced the outgoing David James earlier in the season has not yet confirmed if he’ll be staying on for the next season.
I still don’t know about my future. I am here till the end of this season. I will speak to the board after the season gets over.Nelo Vingada, Head Coach, Kerala Blasters FC.
There has been a management change in the upper echelons of the Kerala setup. The current CEO Varun Tripuraneni will be exiting the club and Viren D’Silva who served as CEO for the first two seasons will be appointed in his stead.