Nicolas Anelka’s warning about the fighting qualities of the English strikers in Kerala Blasters’ line-up came true. Antonio German kept up the offensive till the end at the D Y Patil stadium, capping tireless running with an 88th minute goal. German’s strike helped the visitors convert defeat into a 1-1 draw against Mumbai City FC, neutralising a 25th minute goal by Juan Aguilera.
Marquee player Anelka restricted himself to coaching, withdrawing from the Mumbai line-up and allowing Subash Singh to team up with Chhetri as strike-partners. The visitors chose Sandip Nandy in goal, replacing Stephen Bywater.
Norde, getting into dangerous positions on the left flank, gave KB a scare by cutting inside and blasting goalwards with his right foot. The ball zoomed over the crosspiece as the Haitian demonstrated power and opportunism.
Anelka’s absence in the forward-line allowed Chhetri, Norde and Subhash to dart into space and push the ball forward. Nandy remained low at the right post to palm away a hasty right-footer by Subhash, conceding a corner.
The KB custodian came under pressure again as Norde floated the ball from the left flank into the goalmouth. Nandy blocked and then watched helplessly as the ball bounced within range for Aguilera to slam the ball through a maze of defenders’ legs.
Spanish midfielder Josu Currias gave the Mumbai defence some anxious moments. A snap left-footer forced goalkeeper Paul to react with an overhead block. Dagnall closed in but the goalkeeper dived forward and swept the ball away.
The visitors started the second half on a positive note as Antonio German raced down the left and swept the ball across to the other post. Paul reacted late, but the ball rolled wide.
The Blasters kept up the offensive, desperate for victory. Dagnall slipped a pass to German who hoodwinked a defender but an off-balance Coimbra messed up the chance from near the spot. Mehtab’s cross found Jhingan, but the glancing header flew wide.
Mumbai City remain in seventh place after 12 matches, Kerala Blasters languish in eighth position, far away from the first four berths needed for a knockout place.
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