Kochi: A spirited Kerala Blasters FC played out a goalless draw against Odisha FC in their injury-marred Indian Super League match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Friday.
Injury woes started for Eelco Schattorie’s men as early as in the second minute of the game when Jairo Rodrigues limped off owing to a hamstring pull. Twenty-one minutes later their striker Messi Bouli, who was given a start in place of their star striker Bartholomew Ogbeche by their Dutch boss, was stretchered off after a head collision with Odisha FC’s Aridane Santana, who also had to be carried off the field.
Bouli and Santana collided inside the Kerala box while vying for a corner ball. Both the players were on the ground for a considerable time, and Santana was seen wiping off blood from the back of his head. They were taken to the hospital.
Schattorie brought in Abdul Hakku in place of Rodrigues and Mohammed Rafi in place of Bouli, which took Blasters’ tally of Kerala players, on the field, to six. Odisha’s gaffer Josep Gombau substituted Santana by Carlos Delgado. And in the dying minutes of the first half, he brought in Daniel Lalhlimpuia in place of defender Rana Gharmi but could not make any gain.
Both the sides shared an equal amount of possession and had a fair share of exciting moments.
Sahal was the most impressive player for Kerala Blasters as he was behind almost every chance the host created.
The glorious one among them would be Sahal’s solo-raid in the 36th minute that brought life back into the stadium. The Kerala lad took control of the proceedings from the right flank and carried the ball into the danger zone of Odisha drilling past three defenders. His bravado ended when he was brought down inside the box by Odisha defender Narayan Das with a feather touch. Blasters’ cries for a penalty, however, was not answered by the referee. Odisha’s first real chance came from a corner in the 20th minute. But it was well cleared off by Blasters, who had struggled against set-piece move all through this season.
In the second half, when Odisha looked aiming to split points, Blasters played an aggressive game, which was highly appreciated by their fans. After a couple of off-target close shaves, Kerala came real close to ending the impasse through Rahul KP in the 86th minute. Rahul hammered in a right-footer from close range after collecting a failed header from Ogbeche. Odisha survived the scare, thanks to the brilliance of their keeper Francisco Dorronsoro. While Sahal, Prashanth, and Rahul kept creating chances for Kerala even in the dying minutes, Odisha’s one-off chances in the second half came from the boots of Xisco Hernandez and Narayan Das.
With the draw, Blasters have successfully held their slide and now has four points from as many matches. Odisha, who also has four points now, are placed one slot above Blasters on goal difference.
Kerala Blasters will travel to Bengaluru on November 23 while Odisha, who are on a long away stint, will travel to Kolkata on November 24.