Even the Kerala Blasters’ most ardent supporters did not give their side any chance in the match against La Liga side Girona FC. “A dozen,” said one fan. “Probably 20,” said another.
That was the margin by which they expected the Blasters to get thrashed in the final match of the Toyota Yaris La Liga World pre-season football tournament at the Nehru Stadium here on Saturday. Of course, they did not think their side was good enough to score a single goal.
They had good reason to think on those dismal lines. For, the Kerala Blasters was blanked 6-0 by Melbourne City FC in the tournament opener and then the Australian side was itself beaten by the same margin by Girona on Friday . Many of the fans who turned up just wanted to enjoy a shower of goals.
But they had to wait. For Girona opened its account only towards the end of the first session and then came up with a strong surge in the second half to finish with a 5-0 victory. And the Spanish side walked away with the winner’s trophy after winning both its matches in the three-team event.
Girona, which was playing its second match here without a day’s break, virtually brought out its second string on Saturday, making nine changes to the team that started against Melbourne.
The Spanish side, which finished an impressive 10th in its La Liga debut last season, moved up repeatedly through the left flank with Carles Planas sending a steady stream of crosses into the box. But for a change, the Blasters defence stood strong, with captain Sandesh Jhingan and Frenchman Cyril Kali frequently warding off danger.
Melbourne had conceded three goals by the 25th minute against Girona on Friday and when the Blasters held its fort till the 40th minute, its fans roared in admiration.
But Girona gained the lead shortly after that. Pedro Porro, from the centre, sent a lovely pass to Eric Montes on the right and the latter raced into the box and scored from a difficult angle.
Two goals came in a three-minute spell in the second half, beginning in the 54th. Shortly after Pedro Porro had struck, Yhoan Many sent a lovely cross from the left. Jhingan desperately tried to put a foot out but could only watch agonisingly as Alex Granell rushed into the box and sent the ball home.
Girona added two more through Aday Benitez and Aleix Garcia, with the latter scoring from the spot. Just before the hour mark, the home team’s Slovenian star Matej Poplatnik was brought down right outside the box. Courage Pekuson’s impressive freekick offered a lot of hope as it curled in but it was smartly pushed back into play smartly by the Girona goalkeeper Gorka Morena.