A bit of Kerala Blasters’ own brand of tiki-taka, culminating in a familiar moment of magic from Adrian Luna. That was all Blasters needed on Tuesday night to move into the final of the Indian Super League (ISL).
Though Pronay Halder cancelled out Luna's goal for Jamshedpur to make it 1-1 in the second leg of the semifinal, the men from Kochi won 2-1 on aggregate as they reached an ISL final for the third time at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Goa.
It’s their first since 2016.
It was a well-contested encounter between two equally strong teams, both keen on attacking. But, then, Luna often provides the edge for Blasters, regardless of the opposition.
So it was on this night too, at the Tilak Maidan Stadium. His moment of sheer brilliance came in the 18th minute.
It all began with a header by Blasters' Lalthathanga Khawlhring near the half-way line: a series of 12 passes had the Blasters players turn their Jamshedpur rivals into mere spectators.
The 12th pass was delivered, back to Luna, by Alvaro Vazquez from the left. The Uruguayan took on the Jamshedpur defender Laldinliana Renthlei, beat him and then curved the ball from just outside the box into the corner of the net.
Down 0-2 in effect, Jamshedpur attacked with vigour and in the 36th minute had a goal disallowed: Daniel Chima Chukwu proved to be off-side after he scored off a Greg Stewart free-kick.
Five minutes into the second half, though, Jamshedpur really scored, off a superb kick fired into the box from the corner by Stewart. Pronay slotted the ball home, after Chukwu failed to head it firmly enough.
Jamshedpur fought hard to take the game to extra time, but Blasters, which was playing without the injured Sahal Samad, stayed firm.