ISL 2023-24: Kerala Blasters Beat East Bengal 2-1 as Cleiton Silva Misses and Scores Penalty – News18

ISL 2023-24: Kerala Blasters beat East Bengal (FSDL)

Daisuke Sakai and Dimitrios Diamantakos scored to help Kerala Blasters beat East Bengal 2-1 in the 2023-24 Indian Super League.

Kerala Blasters defeated East Bengal 2-1 in the 2023-24 Indian Super League at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) in Kolkata on Saturday.

The opening salvos were traded with much ferocity but both teams managed to weather the initial storm.

In the second minute itself, Kerala Blasters’ Danish Farooq left-footed shot from outside the box was blocked. A minute later, East Bengal’s Nandhakumar Sekar found Mahesh Naorem on the edge of the penalty box with a smart cut-back but the latter’s left-footed shot was blocked too.

That was that too for some time.

Ahead of the start of the match, the Red and Gold brigade unfurled a Tifo that made fun of the bare trophy cabinet for the Manjappada.

The animosity flowed down onto the pitch with Danish Farooq going into the referee’s book as early as the 11th minute. Jose East Bengal’s Antonio Pardo and Harmanjot Khabra too followed soon. Pritam Kotal evened up the number by the time the first water break came around.

After the restart, Kerala Blasters scored. In the 32nd minute, Dimitrios Diamantikos held off two defenders to control a throw-in from the right as Adrian Luna took over to send a defence-splitting pass to Daisuke Sakai over the left. The Japanese national faked a shot to bamboozle Mohamad Raokip and slotted the ball past Prabhsukhan Gill.

Kerala Blasters seemingly doubled their lead three minutes later as Kwame Peprah headed in Luna’s cross but the goal was chalked off for offside.

East Bengal fans were not too happy with their side’s showing, especially given the fact that the travelling handful of Kerala Blasters supporters were lower in numbers and yet outnumbered the decibels. The poor passing and general lack of control of the ball from the players did not help.

Carles Cuadrat had seen enough and decided to make some changes. Souvik Chakrabarti, Hijazi Maher and Nishu Kumar coming on with Khabra, Saul Crespo and Mandar Rao Desai making way.

After the restart, East Bengal started on the front foot. In the 56th minute, Hijazi Maher’s headed effort was barely turned behind by Sachin Suresh.

Kerala Blaster though son gained control of the mid-field as every East Bengal attack fizzled out eventually.

The players were growing incrementally annoyed and the tackles, pushes and tugs followed. The infractions mounted and the tiff grew into fights. Annoyed East Bengal players vented their frustrations on the opposition.

With desperation growing, East Bengal players went hard for every ball and contested every pass. In the 83rd minute, Nandha’s shot from outside was not collectedly cleanly by Sachin in the Kerala Blasters goal. Mahesh was the quickest to react to the rebound as Sachin, in his attempt to collect the ball, felled him. The referee pointed to the spot.

Cleiton stepped up. He stuttered and hit it straight at Sachin, who collected calmly. The referee blew his whistle and directed a retake after players had encroached on the penalty box.

Cleiton positioned the ball again. He stuttered again as Sachin saved again but could not gather. The East Bengal captain skied the rebound as the Kerala Blasters players celebrated.

The game was not over though.

In the 88th minute, Kerala Blasters scored their second as Diamantakos pounced on a loose header from mid-field from Nishu. He celebrated by taking off his jersey and was promptly given his marching orders for his second yellow on the night. On his way out, Ivan Vukomanovic hugged his star forward.

In the closing moments, Sandeep handled the ball inside the penalty box as the referee pointed to the spot. Cleiton stepped up again and this time he blasted the ball past Sachin for a consolation goal. That was the last kick of the ball too as the Kerala Blasters players went straight over the travelling fans to celebrate.