Iain Hume scored a hat-trick for the Blasters, while Delhi skipper Pritam Kotal scored his first goal of Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 to put his team on level terms at the break.
The hosts started the game positively and had a decent attempt in the sixth minute of the contest after Lallianzuala Chhangte made his way into the box. The Indian youngster wrapped his foot around the ball and got his shot away but couldn’t keep his effort on target to the dismay of the home crowd.
Kerala punished them six minutes later courtesy of Hume, who scored his first goal of Hero ISL 2017-18. Courage Pekuson dribbled past Kotal on Kerala’s left and got to the byline before squaring for Hume, who slid and guided the ball into the net to break the deadlock.
Delhi responded well and tried to get level straight away but Kerala defended resolutely to thwart their threat initially. The Lions could have scored the equaliser on the half-hour mark when Nandhakumar Sekar drilled in a low cross from the left looking for David Ngaihte. Kerala custodian Subhasish Roy, however, was wary of the situation and made a crucial intervention to prevent the ball from reaching Ngaihte’s feet.
Romeo Fernandes then wasted a glorious opportunity, after Ngaihte set him up on the edge of the box. Romeo tried to shoot first-time with his weaker left but only ended up blasting his attempt off target. Delhi had another chance to level in the 42nd minute when Jeroen Lumu’s cross from the left took a touch off Sandesh Jhingan and came to Romeo, who couldn’t generate enough power in his header to beat the goalkeeper.
The pressure finally told on Kerala just before half-time, as Delhi got a well-deserved equaliser with Romeo heavily involved again. The Goan winger’s floated free-kick was met by the slightest of touches by Kotal, who rose highest to direct his header inside the far post and make it 1-1 heading into the break.
Both teams began the second period intent on re-establishing their lead and Romeo found himself in the thick of action just before the hour mark. Kotal did brilliantly to come in from the right and play a neat through ball for Romeo, who instead of shooting for the far post decided to go to the near post and ended up hitting the side-netting.
Delhi had another opportunity to take the lead in the 74th after Chhangte did well to provide an excellent cross from the left to Ngaihte in the box. Ngaihte connected with his right foot but put it well wide of goal when he should have been hitting the target.
It proved to be costly as Kerala took control of the game after two quick goals from Hume. The Canadian striker’s second of the night came in the 78th minute after he collected the ball from a throw-in and cut inside onto his right foot to slot the ball into the back of the net.
Hume then killed the contest five minutes later after running onto a beautiful through ball by Mark Sifneos. The 34-year-old outmuscled Rowilson Rodrigues before chipping the outrushing goalkeeper to make it 3-1 and give his side maximum points as well as their first away win of the season.