Pranjal goal helps Mumbai hold high-flying Kerala

Substitute Pranjal Bhumij’s additional-time goal cancelled out India international Halicharan Narzary’s first-half strike as Kerala Blasters were held to 1-1 draw by Mumbai City at the Jawaharlal Nehru (Kaloor International ) Stadium in Kochi on Friday.

Matej Poplatnik and Slavisa Stojanovic continued to lead the line for the Blasters, while Raynier Fernandes, Sehnaj Sing, Arnold Issoko and Shouvik Ghosh earned their first starts of the season today as Jorge Costa made four changes in the starting line up from the 0-2 defeat against Jamshedpur FC.

The home team had a chance of taking the lead early in the 3rd minute. A terrific reflex save by Amrinder Singh with his leg denied Blasters the lead. Then in the 20th-minute Congolese winger, Arnold Issoko got indulged in a heated conversation with the host coach. He showed his finger to shut up as the referee calmed the situation.

Kerala Blasters exerted dominance on the field making the Manjappadas vociferous. Blasters took the lead with a well-worked goal in the 24th minute. Nikola Krcmarevic shielded a throw-in from the right flank and produced a brilliant back-heel pass into the feet of Doungel inside the box. Narzary was found unmarked and he slotted the ball home.

Rafael Bastos was seen struggling to get into the game. The Islanders looked bereft of ideas while the Blasters were fluid in the attacking third of the field. Hence Doungel appeared wasteful today as Stojanovic was ready to float wide whenever required and Poplatnik dropped deep throughout the match to link midfield to attack.

Mumbai City FC was laid back as they seemed clueless in the attacking side and it was only in the 69th-minute substitution that made the hosts tighten up their grip. Pranjal unleashed the terrific strike that smashed the top right corner of the net lately.

It was a crucial point for the Islanders after the opening game defeat.

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