Ogbeche continues his fine form from last season as he guides Kerala Blasters to a fine 2-1 win over ATK in the season-opener. It was a strong overall display from Blasters with plenty of solidity at the back and intent up front, with the sole negative being Arques' injury. That will be all from our side for now, but we'll be back for tomorrow's game between defending champion Bengaluru FC and NorthEast United FC. See you then!
Meanwhile, Manchester United leads 1-0 against Liverpool! Follow that game LIVE here - Rashford gives Manchester United the lead
90+5' The referee blows the full time whistle and the crowd erupts as Kerala Blasters gets its ISL 2019-20 campaign off to a winning start. An Ogbeche brace sees Blasters beat ATK 2-1 and pocket all three points on the offering.
90+4' How close was that? A corner is swung into the box and Balwant connects really well, but his header narrowly misses the target.
90+2' Change for Blasters - Messi comes on! Yep, you read that right. Raphael Messi Bouli replaces the injured Arques.
90+1' Gning and Iniguez have both picked up yellow cards.
90' The fourth official has signalled for give minutes of added time. Enough time for one last goal?
89' More injury woes for Kerala Blasters coach Eelco Schattorie as Mario Arques has been stretchered off for a suspected hamstring injury.
87' Sahal releases Prasanth down the right and he races past his man to play a cross into the box, but can't find a teammate.
85' ATK denied another penalty? Sehnaj's long-range attempt strikes Gning on the arm, but the ref sees no foul! Gning's arm was outstretched and clearly stopped the ball from going towards the goal!
84' Edu Garcia floats the freekick into the box, but Carneiro heads it away to safety. ATK is throwing men forward in these dying minutes, and the Blasters defence seems to be coping just fine.
83' New man in for ATK: Balwant Singh comes on for Pronay Halder. He comes in at the right time as ATK has a free-kick from 30- yards out.
81' Change for Kerala Blasters: Sahal Abdul Samad replaces Jeakson Singh
80' Ogbeche gets this one horribly wrong. He works his way towards the box and skillfully evades his marker to make room for a shot, but his shot sails into the stands. A rare slip up from the otherwise impeccable striker.
78' Chance wasted by the Blasters. The corner from the right finds Ogbeche completely unmarked at the far end and he lays it up for Narzary, but the latter's shot is no where near the target.
75' Change for ATK: Edu Garcia replace Javi Hernandez
74' Soosairaj lets one rip from 35-off yard out, but the ball flies straight to the stands.
69' Spectacular tackle from Jairo to deny Krishna a shot on goal. The ATK striker is released on goal and he has just the 'keeper to beat, but his first touch lets him down and Jairo does just enough to clear the danger.
67' Schattorie ready make his second change? Sahal Abdul Samad is warming up!
65' First substitution for ATK: Sehnaj Singh comes on for Jayesh Rane.
64' Change for Kerala Blasters: Cidoncha is replaced by Mario Arques.
63' Gning comes oh so close to bagging Blasters' third goal of the evening. Prasanth plays it to Rakip on the flank and crosses it toward the goal, but Gning's header floats wide.
61' What's with the theatrics, Ogbeche? Iniguez and Ogbeche seem to have gotten into a squabble here as the Nigerian goes to the ground after a tame push from Iniguez. No bookings awarded and the two go on to hug it off. No bad blood here.
60' We're at the hour mark and Kerala Blasters remains ahead courtesy of Ogbeche's first half brace. The home side has seized control since and had a couple of half chances, but none have been converted. Can Ogbeche get to a hat-trick?
56' Soosairaj makes a fine run down the right, but is brought down by Zuiverloon. Hernandez takes the freekick but it is a horrendous attempt as it misses the wall and the goal! That's one replay he would not want to watch.
53' Kerala Blasters has enjoyed a lions share of possession with 61 percent and has had a total of seven shots so far. ATK has managed only three.
48' Promising play from Blasters. Prashant wins the ball on right and plays a cheeky one-two with Gning, but his strike sails well past the post.
47' CLOSE! Javier's corner finds David Williams in front of goal and he has a shot, but it is just wide. Another missed chance for ATK.
46' KICK OFF!
What a terrific opening half of ISL football. Carl McHugh put the visiting ATK side ahead with a thunderous volley in the sixth minute, while Bartholomew Ogbeche got Kerala Blasters back on level terms when he converted a penalty in the 30th minute. Blasters' new arrival Ogbeche put his side firmly in control as he nestled the net with a ferocious strike at the stroke of half-time to give his side a 2-1 lead.
45' OGBECHE MAKES IT 2-1 TO KERALA BLASTERS! There's just no saving that - what a phenomenal strike from Ogbeche. A cross is played from the right and Pronay Halder fails to deal with it. The ball fall kindly for Ogbeche who fires a thunderbolt to put his side ahead at the cusp of half-time.
44' Chance for ATK! Prabir Das finds Krishna in the box with a fine cross and the striker tries to head it over the keeper -- who is off his line -- but can't find the target.
41' A fine chance for Blaster is cut short as Prasanth handles the ball in the opposition box. The Blasters looks a lot more threatening now and is effectively using both flanks, something that has been missing for large parts of the game.
38' Ambitious! Prasanth Karuthadathkuni has a go at goal from distance, but can't keep the ball on the target. The equaliser has instilled some much-needed confidence into the home side.
33' It's been a bizarre few minutes here. Krishna was first wrongly adjudged offside and then Soosairaj was denied a clear penalty. The very next move saw Blasters win a penalty and score the equaliser after Jairo went down in the box after the softest of touches. Habas, for one, looks terribly unhappy with the refereeing.
30' GOAL - Ogbeche scores from the spot to restore parity. The Nigerian makes it look almost too easy as he picks his spot and drills the ball into the right bottom corner to bring this game back on level terms. The penalty was a very dubious decision from the ref and will remain a major talking point.
29' VAR VAR VAR PLEASE BRING GET US VAR! Jairo appeals for a penalty by claiming that he had his jersey pulled and the ref points to the spot. But hey, the TV replays show there was absolutely barely any contact whatsover made on the player. Quite a shocking decision from the referee Srikrishna.
27' I spoke of VAR just a few minutes ago and now I have to say, we most certainly need VAR here. Soosairaj has his jersey tugged and is wrestled to the ground by Sergio Cidoncha, but the ref sees no penalty! Harsh decision, this.
24' Krishna again, what a game he's having. He beats Bilal Khan and finds the back of the net, but is ruled offside. The replays though show that the Fijian was onside! Do we need VAR in the ISL too?
21' What a chance for ATK! Krishna wins the ball in midfield, outmuscles his marker, and races towards the Blasters goal. He has just the 'keeper to beat, but his meek attempt misses the target. It was the wrong call as he had Javier for company across the goal.
18' Jairo Rodrigues takes out a goal-bound Roy Krishna and picks up a yellow card. The resulting freekick is played deep into the box and Krishna has a go, but his strike clatters into the defence.
STAT: The opening goal in all six seasons of the Indian Super League has been scored by a foreigner. S1 - Fikru | S2 - Helder Postiga | S3: Katsumi Yusa | S4: Ferran Corominas | S5: Matej Poplatnik | S6: McHugh
15' Silly booking, this. Jayesh Rane commits a foul and proceeds to argue with the referee and is shown a yellow card. That's the first booking of ISL 2019-20.
STAT: ATK becomes the first team in ISL history to score its 1st and 100th goal under the same coach - Antonio Habas.
10' The opening goal has put ATK in charge for now. Blasters goalkeeper Bilal Ahmed, making his debut, is caught well off his line and Javier Hernandez has a chance to simply chip the ball to make it 2-0 to ATK, but his grounded shot is cleared with ease.
8' Close! Jairo Rodrigues with a decent attempt as his header loops just above the crossbar.
STAT: This is ATK's 100th goal in the ISL. Four teams have reached the milestone thus far and interestingly, it was a foreigner who scored the 400th goal for all of them.
Chennaiyin FC - Mailson Alves | FC Goa - Hugo Boumous | Delhi Dynamos - Gianni Zuiverloon | ATK - Carl McHugh
6' GOAAAAAAAAAL! Carl McHugh scores a sublime volley to give ATK the lead. It's a fantastic first-time finish from the Irishman. Javier Hernandez floats the free-kick into the box and Agustin Iniguez did ever so well to pad it for McHugh. With no one closing him down, the 26-year-old McHugh chose his spot and busted the net to score his first ISL goal.
5' Jeakson Singh makes his debut and his first tackle in ISL is deemed a foul. He catches Jayesh Rane on his follow through and ATK now has a freekick from a dangerous position.
3' Pacy start to this game here. Halicharan Narzary makes a couple of fiery runs down the right, while Ogbeche also had a chance of sorts.
1' KICK OFF! Referee Srikrishna blows the whistle and Kerala Blasters gets things started.
7:25 pm: Right then, five minutes to kick-off ladies and gents! Sit tight and grab your popcorn, for the first game of the season of the top tier of Indian football is just a few minutes away.
7:20 pm: In case you're wondering, Jobby Justin has been cleared to play for ATK but will miss this evening's game owing to suspension. When will he be back? Two more matches. Oh and Anas is out too - Anas Edathodika, Jobby Justin to miss ISL opener
7:15 pm: A new season will mark a new beginning for Kerala Blasters. The side won just ONE game at home last season and that came against Chennaiyin FC. Can Schattorie, who led NorthEast United FC to its maiden playoff last season, earn a win on his Blasters debut?
7:05 pm: Lots of interesting names in action for Kerala today. Who do you think will be the side's MVP this evening?
7:00 pm: While the opening ceremony continues at Kochi amidst pelting rain, here's quick recap for all of you sitting at home.
From sacking the coach midway to facing the wrath of its loyal fans who effected a boycott for some home matches, the Kerala Blasters saw it all last season. Will this be a year of greener pastures? Season preview - Revamped Kerala Blasters eyes upswing in fortunes
Antonio Habas' return after a gap of three seasons has led to a major overhaul of ATK with a new set of imports filling up the ranks of the foreigners. Roy Krishna is the biggest signing for the club this season. Season preview: Habas returns to ATK, can the title too?
6:50 pm: Antonio Habas, who led ATK to two its titles, is back at the helm this year and has chosen an interesting line-up. Arindam Bhattacharja will man the posts, while Pritam Kotal will anchor the defence. The side has plenty of attacking options in Michal Soosairaj, Roy Krishna and David Williams.
6:45 pm: So Kerala Blasters coach Eeclo Schattorie opts for a 4-5-1 formation with Ogbeche leading the attack. Jeakson Singh, who scored India's only goal at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup will make his debut and will be part of the five-man midfield led by Sergio Cidoncha.
6:40 pm: Line ups, line ups!
Here's our reporter Stan Rayan's preview of this evening's clash:
New-look Kerala Blasters takes on ATK in ISL opener
For a side which finished near the bottom of the Indian Super League (ISL) last season, the Kerala Blasters FC has gone for a major revamp this time. There is a nice new bunch of foreigners and some bright youngsters. And there's a new head coach, too, in the form of Dutchman Eelco Schattorie, who worked magic with NorthEast United by helping the side to the playoffs for the first time ever.
ISL 2019-20: Full schedule, fixtures and where to watch
But as the ISL's sixth edition opens at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Sunday evening with the Blasters taking on former two-time champion ATK, it's clear that the home side has not had the best of preparations.
SEASON PREVIEW | Five editions down, new tricks needed for a new season?
“Though our club did everything to make a good pre-season tour (in the UAE) for our team, unfortunately our pre-season camp was cancelled and therefore, we did not have the perfect preparation,” said Schattorie here on Saturday.
He added, “And we had some foreign players arriving with injuries. Basically, I would say we are two, may be three, weeks behind. We need to catch up.”
A few weeks ago, the Dutchman had spoken about not having played his best defenders in any of his pre-season friendlies as many of them were injured. The recent injury to star centre-back Sandesh Jhingan, who is likely to miss the entire season with an ACL tear, is another major blow for the team. Schattorie, however, did not reveal the current fitness status of his players on Saturday.
Centre-back Raju Gaikwad, who has come in virtually at the last minute, has some catching-up to do too.
“His fitness is not up to par, he did not have a pre-season,” explained the head coach.
Beginnings are tough.
READ | Revamped Kerala Blasters eyes upswing in fortunes
“The most difficult thing in football is the opening game, you never know what to expect. It's a full-pressure match, we have some players who have never played under a huge crowd like this. So there is going to be huge expectations about the game,” said Schattorie.
“That's fine with me but it's all about trying to stabilise our team. We are a little bit behind regarding the pre-season but we are ready to face ATK and get the momentum going and that will be, hopefully, a good start for the rest of the season.”
OGBECHE, MAN TO WATCH
The Blasters' new captain, striker Bartholomew Ogbeche will be the man to watch for the Kochi-based side, which struggled a lot in the scoring department. Ogbeche was second in the ISL scorers' list last season with 12 goals while playing for NorthEast.
Spaniard Antonio Habas, who helped ATK to the ISL title in the inaugural edition in 2014, is back with the Kolkata team. The official pre-match media conference on Saturday did not feature anybody from the ATK, which finished sixth last season. The team has some smart forwards like Australian striker David Williams and Fiji international Roy Krishna, who won the Golden Boot in the A-League.
READ | Habas returns to ATK, can the title too?
Anas Edathodika and Jobby Justin, ATK's new signings, will not feature in the opener as they will be serving out their carried-forward suspensions from last season.
The Blasters had beaten ATK 2-0 in its ISL opener in Kolkata last season and it will be interesting to see who will produce the fireworks this time.
- Indian Super League returns! -
The Indian Super League is back! The sixth edition of the ISL begins this evening as Kerala Blasters takes on ATK in the campaign opener.
This season we will see two new franchises in Odisha FC and Hyderabad FC. Odisha FC came into existence as Delhi Dynamos was rechristened after the club signed a long-term agreement with the Odisha government, whereas Hyderabad FC replaced FC Pune City, which disbanded this year.
Bengaluru FC is the defending ISL champion, whereas ATK and Chennaiyin FC have won two titles each.
The league phase of the tournament will run from October to February. The schedule for semifinal and final are yet to be finalised.
All matches will be shown live on Star Sports and Hotstar from 7:30 PM IST.
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