Kochi: After three draws and a 2-5 hammering at the hands of FC Goa, Kerala Blasters finally savoured victory defeating a 10 men NorthEast United 1-0 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Thursday.
Playing without front men Dimitar Berbatov and Iain Hume, the Blasters looked the weakest team that started a match for the ‘Men in Yellow’ this season, but for one man- Wes Brown. Making his debut after a gap of five matches the former Manchester Untied star made sure it was one that will be remembered for ages, guiding the team to it’s first victory.
CK Vineeth scored the only goal from a Rino Anto cross, that reminded of the flying Dutchman Robin Van Persie’s famous world Cup goal against Spain in 2014. Running from behind the box, the Kannur boy thumped in a flying header giving Kerala the lead in the 24th minute.
Two defence splitting ball to Jackichand and Vineeth early in the match, was just a glimpse of what Brown could Produce and he did so all night, standing as a shield before the four men defence while also fulfilling the job compatriot Berbatov had done in the past two matches, build play from deep of the park.
It was NorthEast who started strong though with Marcinho and Danilo often threatening the Kerala defence with their pace and skills. A quick play between the two nearly produced a goal in the 19th minute, but Lekic-Pesic was at hand to clear. But Kerala took lead on the other side through Vineeth’s flying header that beat all, to land inside the net.
The match took a weird turn when NorthEast goalkeeper TP Rehenesh saw a straight red for a cruel foul on Mark Sifneos, who was clear on goal after Courage Pekuson tore the opposition defence with a through ball. Playing with 10 men the ‘Highlanders’ found it tough going and could have gone a couple of goals behind, but Jackichand hit the side-netteing, while Lalruatthara could only find the upright.
The visiting side came close to scoring on a couple of occasions, but lacked that final touch eventually succumbing to their second straight loss in two matches, pushing them down to the eight position. Kerala on the other hand, jumped to seventh after tasting their first victory in the campaign.