ISL: Kerala Blasters squanders lead twice to be held by ATK

Defending champion ATK maintained its unbeaten run against Kerala Blasters by equalising twice to play out a 2-2 draw in the Indian Super League on Thursday.

Kerala Blasters' Dimitar Berbatov celebrates after scoring his first goal of the ISL campaign against ATK on Thursday.

Defending champion ATK preserved its unbeaten record against Kerala Blasters as it held the latter to a 2-2 draw here at the Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday. The host, which had not lost a match against KBFC since 2015, extended its record by equalising twice after conceding the lead.

Gudjon Baldvinsson and Dimitar Berbatov found the mark for KBFC while Ryan Taylor and Tom Thorpe equalised on each occasion for ATK.


Two deflections resulting in goals was what that kept the two sides tied at the end of the first half. The Blasters found the break first in the 34th minute when Ghanaian winger Courage Pekuson released his midfield colleague K. Prasanth for the latter to cross into the box. The ball found Baldvinnson and the Icelander’s resulting header took a deflection off ATK defender Jordi Figueras to find the net.

The host levelled the scores four minutes later when Taylor intercepted Blasters midfielder Milan Singh's pass, who was trying to reach Berbatov midway in the home zone, and converted it into a goal. The English midfielder went up a few paces and fired a rasping drive that took a deflection off the Blasters defender Lalruatthara to find the net wrong-footing the opponent goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury.

Looking to exploit the gaps in ATK’s defence, the visitor returned with a better plan after the break. Putting Berbatov – who returned to action after five matches – in the centre of its plans, Blasters regained the lead in the 55th minute.

The finishing said enough about the Bulgarian international’s fantastic ability as he fired a low half-volley, on receiving a pass from Nemanja Pesic, in the far right corner of the ATK goal, giving the host goalkeeper Soram Poirei little chance to save.

As Berbatov opened his ISL account, Blasters thought of its third successive win. But things did not go in its favour as Thorpe went up to equalise off a fine pass from Taylor, who had regained the ball after his initial corner was cleared by the Blasters defence.


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