FULL-TIME: Kerala Blasters FC 0-2 Indian Arrows
Indian Arrows: Amarjit Singh [39′, 77′ (Penalty)]
The Indian Arrows project announced itself on the Super Cup grandstand by dismantling their much-fancied ‘bigger, better league’ opponents Kerala Blasters FC.
Kerala finished the ISL season in 9th place and were looking to the Super Cup for redemption. The Kerala defender Sandesh Jhingan had stated that their team’s intention was to win the knockout tournament. However, the way they played tonight indicated lack of preparation. Completely out of ideas towards the end of the game and trailing by two goals, the Blasters resorted to playing long balls into Sandesh Jhingan who had propped up forward.
Kerala did start the game well with their midfield pushing high up the field to try and win the second ball. Couple of early chances fell to Stojanovic and Sahal Abdul Samad. Stojanovic’s curler from just outside the box was parried away by Prabhsukhan Gill and the Arrows’ keeper was at it again a few minutes later. He smothered Sahal’s attempt after the midfielder had made a fantastic run into the box.
One of the characterstics of Arrows’ play tonight was their pressing. They had the midfielder Lalengmawia deployed as a false nine and what he lacked in offense against Anas and Lakić-Pešić, he made up for it by being the first line of press allowing Arrows to counter effectively.
Whenever the Arrows dispossessed Kerala Blasters, they went forward in numbers and used the flanks to good effect. Their attacking promise resulted in a goal in the 39th minute. Khumanthem Meetei with a quick give and go found himself in some space on the right flank. Meetei then squared the ball to Amarjit Singh who had made a late run into the box from midfield. The Indian Arrows captain scored past the former Indian Arrows goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh to put his side in the lead.
In the second half, the Arrows sat back deeper while Kerala dominated possession in search of the equaliser.
As the top shooter stat indicates, Kerala’s players had quite a few attempts on goal, but the ones that were on target were kept away by a magnificent Prabhsukhan Singh Gill who was adjudged the man of the match tonight for his standout performance in goal.
The Arrows found possession harder to come by in the second half, but whenever they got on the ball they threatened to score. Arrows won a spate of corners around the 70th minute and eventually they scored off one. A scramble from a corner delivery saw the ball sail towards the top corner only for Anas to handle it over his head. Anas was sent off for the offense and the Arrows captain Amarjit got his second goal from the spot.
Indian Arrows found themselves reduced to 10 men as well in the 84th minute after Jitendra Singh was deemed to be the last man after a challenge on Jhingan. The remaining few minutes were uneventful as the game ended with Arrows’ through to the pre-qualifier tie against FC Goa on March 30th.