On a day when Kerala's government announced a two-day official mourning in the honour of Diego Maradona, the State's best-known football team, Kerala Blasters, tried hard to give its fans something cheer about.
But it did not quite succeed as Kerala Blasters drew 2-2 with NorthEast United FC at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim to pick up its first point of the Indian Super League (ISL 2020-21) season. Kibu Vicuna's men would not be too pleased with that result, though, having led 2-0 at half-time.
The side seemed determined to put behind its disappointing start to the campaign when it lost 1-0 to ATK Mohun Bagan six days ago. And the Blasters began in emphatic fashion by drawing the first blood.
In the fifth minute, a superb, curling free-kick into the box by Seityasen Singh found Sergio Cidoncha, who jumped above the Northeast defenders to beautifully head the ball in. Some 18 minutes later, the Spaniard provided an excellent assist to Gary Hooper, who, however, missed from less than six yards out.
Hooper made amends by scoring from the spot in the first half's injury time. The penalty, awarded for a challenge by Rakesh Pradhan on Puitea, seemed a harsh one, though.
NorthEast United came back strongly in the second half as it halved the deficit six minutes after the break through Kwesi Appiah. The Ghanaian had a chance to score the equaliser some 15 minutes later, but he missed from the spot.
Idrissa Sylla, however, found the equaliser towards the end, giving the finishing touches to a splendid long ball from Gurjinder Kumar.
The result: Kerala Blasters 2 (Sergio Cidoncha 5, Gary Hooper 45+1-penalty) drew with Northeast United 2 (Kwesi Appiah 51, Idrissa Sylla 90).
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