Former Liverpool goalkeeper David James’ return to the Blasters’ hotseat ended in a stalemate.
A vintage second-half performance saw Kerala Blasters share points with FC Pune City in their sixth home match of the season. Marcelinho opened the scoring for the visitors after playing a lovely one-two with 20-year-old Ashique Kuruniyan. The arrival of debutant Kizito Keziron in the second half injected much-needed energy in Blasters’ midfield. The hosts kept knocking on the door and in the 73rd minute Mark Sifneos latched onto Courage Peksuon’s pass to level the game for Blasters.
We take a look at the Indian Player Ratings for the match.
The trio of Marcelinho, Jonatan Lucca and Emiliano Alfaro kept testing the 31-year-old in the first half. Subhasish was called into action as early as in the 9th minute. He had to make a smart one-handed save to keep out Alfaro’s low effort from inside the box.
The tall goalkeeper almost gifted Marcelinho a goal after he failed to deal with Lucca’s shot from distance. The Brazilian rushed to tap in the rebound but Subhasish used his legs to avert the danger. Though he was powerless to stop Marcelinho lovely effort which gave the visitors the lead.
An intelligent save by the Kerala Blasters’ goalkeeper
Rino Anto– 6.0
The right-back had to counter the threat of Lucca for most of the first half. The Brazilian winger kept the ball well and brought Mareclinho and Alfaro into play. Though Rino was instrumental in setting up goals against Mumbai City and NorthEast United, he struggled to replicate that.
The former Bengaluru FC defender’s best moment of the match came minutes before half-time when his free-kick led to Blasters’ first real attempt on goal. He limped off in the 84th minute.
Sandesh Jhingan– 6.5
The Blasters skipper put in an impressive shift after conceding penalties in the last two matches. Jhingan didn’t give Alfaro the space and freedom inside the box. In the first half, he thwarted the Uruguayan’s attempt to release Lucca on goal and kept a check on Marcelinho. The Indian international completed 43 passes and made ix clearances.
The 22-year-old’s defensive qualities were put to test as the left-back was one of the busiest players on the pitch. Lalruatthara, who usually enjoys going forward, played a key role in keeping the match alive for Blasters.
Though, he could count himself a little lucky after his lapse outside Blasters’ box allowed Marcelinho to pounce but the former Delhi Dynamos star’s shot was saved by the goalkeeper. He made a total of 4 blocks against Pune, the highest by any Blasters player on the pitch.
Siam Hanghal– 6.0
The youngster was rattled early in the game as Marcelinho and Alfaro dominated the proceedings in the middle. The South American duo easily brushed past Siam. He recovered well and almost won a penalty for the Blasters in the second half. With just two minutes left on the clock, the defensive midfielder made a vital interception.
Jackichand Singh– 7.5
Jackichand Singh’s chance
The Indian international was easily Blasters’ best Indian player on the pitch. Every time Jackichand touched the ball it was greeted with a huge cheer from the fans. The winger sent in some teasing crosses in the first half but Sifneos and Iain Hume couldn’t take advantage of them. He had chances of his own and one of his shots on goal almost led to Blasters’ second of the night.
Samuel Shadap– 4.0
Samuel came in as a replacement for Rino in the dying minutes of the match and didn’t have enough time to make any impact.
FC Pune City
Vishal Kaith– 6.0
The young goalkeeper’s lack of composure in the final minute of injury time almost helped Blasters claim a dramatic late winner in Kochi. Vishal, who hadn’t had much to do in the first half, gifted Hume the ball with a poor clearance. The 34-year-old’s weak shot from around 25 yards came straight at Vishal and his attempt to control it almost led to an own goal.
Sarthak Golui– 7.5
Ranko Popovic would have been delighted with the performance of his right-back. Sarthak made overlapping runs and provided necessary support to Marcelinho and Alfaro. At the other end, he blocked Hume’s goal-bound header with his chest and denied Jackichand’s attempt with a fine block. The youngster on loan from Mohun Bagan made five clearances and as many blocks in the match.
Gurtej Singh– 6.5
Gurtej combined well with Rafael Lopez Gomez to frustrate Blasters frontline in the first half. He ensured that Hume didn’t roam around with the ball inside the box. The centre-back made seven clearances in the match.
Lalchhuanmawia Fanai – 6.5
With five out of six of Blasters’ goals so far this season coming from the wings, Fanai had his task cut out. He did a decent job to nullify the threat of Jackichand and Rino. The former Shillong Lajong defender came close to taking the lead for the visitors when his excellent run from the middle was cut off by Wes Brown inside Blasters’ box.
Kerala Blasters vs FC Pune City highlights
Adil Khan– 6.0
The defensive midfielder enjoyed a very good first half as he managed to successfully ward off Dimitar Berbatov’s threat and came close with a long-range effort. But Kizito’s presence after the restart created lots of problems for Adil. He failed to win duels with the Ugandan and had to sit deep for most of the time.
Ashique Kuruniyan– 7.0
Ashique linked up wonderfully with Marcelinho for the opening goal. It was the 20-year-old’s first assist in ISL. Though he wasn’t as threatening as Lucca at the other end, the Keralite had couple of opportunities and made Lalruatthara work hard.
Jewel Raja– 4.0
Jewel Raja’s only contribution was giving away a free-kick the very next minute after coming on for Ashique Kuruniyan. Vishal made a good save from Hume’s effort.
Rohit Kumar– NA
Rohit was only introduced in the 90th minute in place of Marcelinho and didn’t play enough minutes to get a rating.