ISL 2019-20: Dream start for Kerala Blasters as Ogbeche scores brace in win over ATK

Bartholomew Ogbeche's brace steered Kerala Blasters to a 2-1 comeback win over ATK in the ISL 2019-20 season-opener at Kochi on Sunday.

Kerala Blasters captain Bartholomew Ogbeche celebrates scoring against ATK in the ISL 2019-20 season opening game on Sunday.   -  H. Vibhu

It was a sea of yellow at the Nehru Stadium here on Sunday. And though Kerala Blasters did not appear to have a settled combination for a major part of the opening session, it pulled off a much-needed 2-1 victory over former two-time champion ATK in the Indian Super League 2019-20 season-opener.

And the captain Bartholomew Ogbeche led from the front as he struck a brace, his first in Blasters' colours, to steer his side to all three points.

RELATED| As it happened: Ogbeche brace powers Blasters to win over ATK

But a Blasters victory did not seem likely when the match began. While ATK looked confident and dominated the proceedings, the home side appeared unsure.

Blasters suffered an early shock as Carl McHugh struck the opener in the sixth minute. Javier Hernandez floated a free-kick into the box and Agustin Iniguez padded it kindly for McHugh. With no one closing him down, the Irishman busted the net with a wonderful left-footed volley to score his first ISL goal.

The home side came back on level terms when it won a controversial penalty in the 30th minute. Jairo Rodrigues claimed that he was pulled back by Pronay Halder in a goalmouth melee and though replays showed the slightest contact, the referee pointed to the spot. And Ogbeche converted it with a wily shot that went out of the reach of the diving goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya.

 

Ogbeche, then, put the Blasters ahead at the cusp of half-time with a rasping volley. Spaniard Sergio Cidoncha sent a long cross from the right and Halder failed to intercept it. And the ball fell kindly for the Nigeria-born Frenchman who scored off a stunning first time finish.

ATK forward Roy Krishna was the side's key player on the evening and impressed with his pace and power. In the 21st minute, he evaded the defenders with ease and went on a solo run, but he appeared confused inside the box and sent it wide.

The Fiji-born Krishna remained a constant threat to the Blasters defence and nearly found the equaliser in the 70th minute. He was released on goal and had just the goalkeeper to beat, but his first touch let him down and defender Jairo made a fantastic diving challenge to deny him and ensure the Blasters began its campaign on a winning note.

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