Kerala Blasters 1-1 SC East Bengal: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Kerala Steal a Point in Stoppage-Time

The final clash of the Indian Super League’s seventh matchday saw two winless sides go head-to-head, as 9th-placed Kerala Blasters took on bottom-club SC East Bengal. Both managers, Kibu Vicuña and Robbie Fowler were looking for their first taste of Indian victory and needed to turn things around quickly following such disappointing starts. An intriguing clash was set to ensue, and here’s what we made of it:


East Bengal started off well and came close to opening the scoring in the 9th minute when Haobam Tomba Singh let fly from outside the box with his weaker left foot, but it was well kept out by Albino Gomes. Two minutes later, Costa Nhamoinesu got on the end of a corner as Debjit Majumdar rushed out to no avail, but his header just skimmed off the top of the crossbar. East Bengal opened the scoring in the 14th minute, as Jacques Maghoma slipped Mohammed Rafique in behind on the right, and he squared it across the face of goal. Anthony Pilkington was waiting on the other side, but Bakary Koné turned it in himself. A couple of minutes later, Maghoma played Pilkington into a position similar to Rafique, and the Englishman went for goal from a tight angle but had his effort tipped away for a corner. Kerala had another huge chance to score in the 51st minute when Bakary Koné towered above the opposition at the far post from a corner, but he just missed wide. At the other end, Albino Gomes continued to work hard as he had to go down sharply to block Mohammed Rafique’s shot towards the near post from a sharp angle on the right. East Bengal were massively let off in the 71st minute when Sahal Abdul Samad headed the ball across to Jordan Murray after Debjit Majumdar had rushed off his line to punch a long ball away. The Australian striker hit it first-time, but the keeper somehow got back in time and made sure that it didn’t hit the back of his net. Kerala had another presentable chance in the 83rd minute when Facundo Pereyra stood over a free-kick right at the edge of the box, but he sent it high. Four minutes later, a quick counterattack saw Anthony Pilkington square a ball to Jacques Maghoma, whose curling effort towards the bottom corner was well-saved by Albino Gomes. East Bengal hearts were broken in the 94th minute as Sahal Abdul Samad whipped a cross towards Jeakson Thounaojam following a half-cleared corner, and the teenager headed home.
Sahal could well have won the match for Kerala as he burst through between two defenders a minute later and latched onto a through pass, but he sent his shot high thanks to a deflection. With that, Kerala Blasters ran away with a 1-1 draw.


Key Talking Point

An Absolute Heist of a Point

Kerala Blasters have been in the ISL since the very first season, but even six years later they can’t seem to be able to get things to properly click. They did reach a couple of finals in the first three seasons, but things have gone downhill since.

This season, they appointed the I-League winning manager to guide them up the table, but he is already under pressure. To further the point, Kibu Vicuña made three changes at half-time – an unusually high amount and clear indication that things weren’t going how he had foreseen at all.

While Kerala did have the majority of possession, a lot of it was spent in their defensive third passing around rather aimlessly at the back. At the sharp end, they only managed to get four shots on target, but late, late on, they somehow managed to salvage a point from this match.

While you can understand East Bengal’s struggles in the opening stages of the season as they were adapting to new surroundings, questions surely have to be asked of an experienced side like Kerala. This point, however, will surely be celebrated.

Player Ratings

Albino Gomes (8.5*), Nishu Kumar (5), Bakary Koné (7), Costa Nhamoinesu (7.5), Jessel Carneiro (5.5), Seityasen Singh (5), Vicente Gómez (6.5), Rohit Kumar (5), Rahul KP (5.5), Facundo Pereyra (7.5), Gary Hooper (5.5)

Subs: Jordan Murray (6), Sahal Abdul Samad (7), Jeakson Thounaojam (7), Lalthathanga Khawlhring (N/A), Sandeep Singh (N/A)


Key Talking Point

What Do They Need to Do to Win?

East Bengal started their ISL campaign by going on the longest-ever losing streak for ISL newcomers in three games, but they eventually managed to earn their first point and even scored a couple of goals last time out.

Tonight, they so very nearly took it one step up, as Robbie Fowler’s men came agonisingly close to three points. The start of this match was fairly chaotic as both sides had great chances to score, but for once, East Bengal got a bit of luck as Kerala missed their chances and later scored at their own end to give the Red and Gold Brigade their second lead in two ISL games.

They did a good job of holding on to their lead for the rest of the first half and into the second half too, avoiding a collapse like the one they suffered against Hyderabad. While Debjit Majumdar did have to make a couple of heroic saves to preserve his clean sheet, his attacking teammates got into good positions at the other end too and could well have added another goal. However, deep into stoppage-time, they ended up conceding and continuing their winless run.

No matter how well East Bengal do, that first-ever ISL win remains ever-elusive.

Player Ratings

Debjit Majumder (8.5*), Surchandra Singh (7), Scott Neville (6), Daniel Fox (7), Bikash Jairu (6), Sehnaj Singh (6.5), Mohammed Rafique (7), Haobam Tomba Singh (6), Matti Steinmann (6.5), Jacques Maghoma (7), Anthony Pilkington (7.5)

Subs: Yumnam Singh (5.5), Wahengbam Angousana (N/A)

What This Means:

Kerala Blasters stay in 9th while SC East Bengal move one spot away from the foot of the table. The second own goal of this ISL season gave East Bengal the lead, with the first one having gone against East Bengal. However, it was Jeakson Thounaojam first-ever ISL goal which was at the centre of the late drama, stealing a point for Kerala. Kerala Blasters face Hyderabad FC next on Sunday, while SC East Bengal meet Chennaiyin a day before that. Stats courtesy

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