Super Cup: Kiyam brace draws curtain on Kerala Blasters' miserable season

Arrows captain Amarjit Kiyam struck a goal in either half to move his side on to the Round-of-16 of the Super Cup and will next face FC Goa.

Amarjit Kiyam Indian Arrows Super Cup

Amarjit Kiyam celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal.   -  Twitter @IndianFootball

Indian Super League side Kerala Blasters' miserable 2018-19 campaign ended after a humiliating 2-0 loss to the experimental Indian Arrows in the Super Cup qualifier match at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday.

Arrows captain Amarjit Kiyam struck a goal in either half to move his side on to the Round-of-16 of the competition and will next face FC Goa on March 30.

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Kerala started the match brightly, with Slavisa Stojanovic testing Arrows goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Singh Gill within the opening three minutes of the contest. The striker stepped inside from the left-hand side and let one fly, drawing out a brilliant save from the youngster. It would be a first of many crucial interventions from the Arrows custodian, who was adjudged the Man of the Match for his stellar performance.

As the match progressed, the Arrows slowly settled down showing great composure at the back and looked to counter-attack, primarily through the wings. Right-back Boris Singh Thangjam, in particular, was ever-present on both ends of the pitch, keeping the Kerala defence on its toes with his overlapping runs.

However, it was the team from Kochi who carved out the second big opportunity of the match on the 15th minute. Sahal Abdul Samad, who has been Kerala's standout player in the Hero ISL this season, showcased some quick feet to dance past a crowd of defenders to create a shooting opportunity for himself. But Prabhsukhan had his angles well covered.

From there on, the Arrows put the experienced Kerala under consistent pressure which would eventually pay off. The move - one of the many the Arrows created through the right - saw Khumanthem Meetei free down the flank after an intricate bit of interplay with Boris. The youngster showed impeccable composure to control the ball and cut it back to find captain Amarjit Kiyam's run from the deep. He fired the ball past Kerala goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh to give the Arrows a well-deserved lead on the 39th minute.

The half time whistle sounded with the Arrows leading 1-0.

As the match trickled past the hour-mark, the tempo slowed down a tad, with both coaches looking at their bench to freshen things up. Vingada brought on Prasanth K in place of Slavisa Stojanovic, while his counterpart Floyd Pinto responded by bringing on striker Rahim Ali in place of Lalengmawia. The trend of the match saw Kerala boss the possession but its forward forays were indecisive at best.

Arrows, on the other hand, defended resolutely and enjoyed short bursts of threatening possession. One such phase of play helped the Arrows win a string of corners and one of them, eventually, led to its second goal. After a brief pinball session inside the Kerala box, Anas Edathodika used his hands to prevent the ball from going into the net. The infraction earned the Kerala centre-back a red card and the Arrows, a penalty. Amarjit stepped up to take the spot kick and promptly dispatched the ball past Dheeraj for the second time on the night.

Kerala could have pulled a goal back almost immediately, but Prabhsukhan was at hand to deny Kerala for the umpteenth time. With time running out, Vingada’s side tried desperately to breach the Arrows’ blue wall but being a man down didn’t help its cause. On the 84 minute, the numbers evened out as Jitendra Singh was sent off for denying Sandesh Jhingan a chance to get a free run at goal.

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The sending off would, however, have little consequences on the result, which ended 2-0 in the Arrows’ favour.

Meanwhile, Minerva Punjab FC failed to turn up for its Super Cup qualifier against FC Pune City at the Kalinga Stadium earlier today. The match did not kick-off as Minerva did not report till scheduled kick-off time. The matter will be dealt accordingly as per the regulations of the tournament.

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