Kochi: Ten-man FC Goa rallied to hold Kerala Blasters 2-2 in their Indian Super League (ISL) match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Sunday. Lenny Rodrigues drew level for the visitors in injury time as Blasters were left to rue their poor finishing.
Cameroonian striker Messi Bouli’s 59th-minute strike seemed to have earned Blasters three precious points before Rodrigues dashed their hopes.
Mourtada Fall’s header in the 41st cancelled out an early strike by Sergio Cidoncha for the home side as the teams went into the half-time break on level terms.
Senegalese defender Fall was sent off in the 52nd after he brought down Bartholomew Ogbeche outside the box. Referee Crystal John’s decision did not go down well with the Goan players and coach Sergio Lobera.
Blasters made the numerical advantage count soon as K Prasanth’s pass from the left wing found Messi who slotted it past Goan custodian Mohammad Nawaz.
Blasters missed a golden chance to consolidate their position in the 67th as Ogbeche headed wide. Soon, substitute Seityasen Singh’s pile driver was parried away by Nawaz as the hosts mounted pressure.
Later, Ogbeche again failed to hit the target off a fine pass by Seityasen and it proved costly for Blasters. It was the third time this season that the Gaurs had earned a draw in stoppage time.
Blasters are in eighth spot in the 10-team league with five points from six matches, while Goa moved up to fourth with nine points from six games.
Spanish midfielder Cidoncha’s left-footed volley after a failed clearance by Fall from a long throw by Raju Gaikwad handed Blasters the lead as early as the second minute.
Blasters coach Eelco Schattorie had promised that his side won’t sit back and defend in numbers. And Blasters buoyed by the goal, did just that. They pressed forward and put pressure on the Goan backline.
Goa sorely missed star forward Ferran Corominas who was forced to sit out of the second successive game with an injury.
Messi could have doubled Blasters’ lead halfway through the first period. But his left-footed attempt went wide.
Soon Cidoncha shot over from outside the box as Blasters made all the early moves.
Blasters came close to scoring their second goal in the 38th, but Messi could not latch on to a fine cross by Ogbeche.
Goa equalised against the run of play as Fall headed home from close range after T P Rehenesh had parried away a fine free-kick by Edu Bedia. Fall made the most of a perfect cross by Jackichand Singh to beat Rehenesh and silence the home crowd.
Soon Ogbeche let one rip from a distance, but an alert Nawaz kept that out.
Shortly after resumption of play, Fall was given the marching orders and that proved to be a huge moment in the game.
Blasters next meet Mumbai City FC in an away tie on Thursday.