Hello and welcome to Sportstar's highlights of the ISL 2020-21 clash between Kerala Blasters FC and SC East Bengal.
That brings us to the end of our ISL coverage for the day. The opening game of the day saw Mumbai City extend its lead at the top to three points by beating Hyderabad FC , while Kerala Blasters and SC East Bengal played out a draw in the second match.
SC East Bengal coach Robbie Fowler rued the refereeing and felt his side put up a great show. "We were very good today. We defended well, scored a good goal and had plenty of chances. But the man in the middle (referee) keeps spoiling our games and we will complain about him again. Lots of decisions went against us. I'm not sure if their goal was a corner. We had one of our young players Tomba booked for not being nine yards away [during a free-kick] and every one of their players is going around kicking everyone and he [referee] does not say anything to them. We are not happy with the referee's performance again," he said.
"We're massively disappointed to have not won the game. We showed tonight that we can compete and create chances. If we are more clinical in final third then we will give everyone a game. There were a lot of disappointments from the game but lots of positives as well. Lots of new players came on and made good performances. I'm disappointed because I felt we had done enough to win a couple of games there," he added.
When asked if would have rather played Sahal Abdul Samad and Jeakson Singh, who combined for the equaliser, Kerala Blasters coach Kibu Vicuna said: "Everyone has a different opinion. We prepare for 90 minutes and Sahal was not ready for 90 minutes. We already thought of playing him in second half. Gary [Hooper] had a muscular problem and we played Jeakson as a number 6 to give a more attacking role to the defenders."
Jeakson Singh's last-gasp header sees Kerala Blasters earn a 1-1 draw with SC East Bengal.
Robbie Fowler's SC East Bengal went ahead in the 13th minute when Bakary Kone scored on own goal off Mohamad Rafique's cross. SC East Bengal went on to dominate the opening half and had a host of chances but did not capitalise.
Kerala Blasters coach Kibu Vicuna brought on Sahal and Jeakson at the start of the second half and the move paid the dividend as the duo combined to bag the equaliser.
Sahal, playing his first match in a month , played a delightful lob into the box and Jeakson did really well to fight off his marker and head the ball into the back of the net. This was 19-year-old Jeakson's first goal in the ISL.
The result sees Kerala Blasters remain on the ninth spot, while SC East Bengal climbs up to 10th.
FULL TIME! Kerala Blasters 1 - 1 SC East Bengal.
90+6' Sahal nearly wins it for his side! Murray plays the youngster in and Sahal shoots but his attempt loops above the crossbar.
90+4 GOAAAAAAAAAAL TO KERALA BLASTERS! Jeakson Singh scores his first ISL goal to bag a last-gasp equaliser. Sahal floats a teasing cross and Jeakson does extremely well to nod it into the goal.
90+3' Neville takes out Murray at the centre of the pitch and gets a yellow card.
90' Blasters throwing the kitchen sink here in search of a late equaliser. Six minutes to be added on.
87' What a fantastic save from Albino! Maghoma tries to bend it into the far post and Albino leaps to his left to make an excellent block. Maghoma had a chance to put this tie to bed there.
85' Chance! Maghoma buys time in the box and squares it neatly for Yumnam, but the substitute fires it into the stands.
85' STAT: SC East Bengal has conceded 80 percent of its goals this season after the 80th minute.
84' Fowler makes a substitution as Rafique, who's cross led to the goal, is taken off for Wahengbam Luwang.
83' Pereyra curls it but not well enough as his free kick sails above the crossbar.
82' Change for Blasters - Kone is replaced by Lalthathanga Khawlhring.
81' What a chance here for Blasters! Murray has been brought down right at the edge of the box and it's a great opportunity to sneak one back. Fox picks up a yellow card.
80' Yumnam does really well to weave his way into the box on the left and chips in a cross, but its a tad too high for his teammate.
78' Sahal is back to competitive football after 30 days. Can he inspire the Blasters today?
75' We now head into the last quarter of play. Will SC East Bengal hold on for its first win in the ISL or will Kerala Blasters find a way back in this game?
73' Surchandra is shown a yellow card for a foul on Jessel.
71' Debjit produces a wonderful save to deny Murray. Sahal heads it into the box for Murray and the Australian connects well but Debjit almost plucks the ball out of the air to clear it for a corner.
69' First change for SC East Bengal - Haobam Singh is replaced by Yumnam Singh. One debutant on for another.
66' Nishu picks out Sahal with a fine ball and the substitute lets one rip on the turn but fails to trouble the 'keeper.
63' Steinmann misses a sitter. The corner from the right finds him completely unmarked at the far post but the German's header is poor and is cleared away.
62' Lovely interplay between Rafique and Steinmann sees the former drill in a low shot, but Albino does well to palm it away for a corner. Albino has had a busy, busy game.
58' Kone goes into the book for what was a clean tackle. Pilkington races down the left flank and Kone wins the ball with a well-timed sliding the tackle. The referee, though, calls it a foul and awards SC East Bengal a free-kick. Vicuna is livid on the touchline, making his displeasure well known to the fourth official.
55' Vicuna's triple change at half-time was meant to inspire some more movement in the final third...but that hasn't quite materialised yet.
51' How did Kone miss that?! He does well to out-jump his marker and head the ball, but he misses the target from less than four yards out. Costa had a similar miss in the opening half too.
49' Sahal will be eager to perform today. The youngster has only played one game so far this season and that was exactly a month ago when the ISL began on November 20. He has been out nursing an injury since.
47' Three changes for Kerala Blasters - Sahal Abdul Samad, Jordan Murray and Jeakson Singh replace Seityasen Singh, Rohit and Gary Hooper. This is the first time a coach has made three changes at half-time in ISL 2020-21.
46' KICK OFF! And the second half gets underway.
45' Bakary Kone's own goal is all that separates the two sides as SC East Bengal goes into the interval with a 1-0 lead over Kerala Blasters FC.
44' Rahul clatters into Debjit as they both vie for a long ball and the 'keeper seems to have suffered a strong knock. Three minutes to be added on.
40' The Kerala Blasters defence has held on so long, but only just. Pilkington has been a menace in the final third and has his marker(s) scampering for cover.
39' Nishu's poor back pass sees Pilkington feed to to Rafique in the box, but the latter's first touch lets him down. It's one-way traffic here as SC East Bengal launches into another attack and wins a corner.
35' Debjit does well to parry away the free-kick and SC East Bengal race ahead on the counter. Maghoma is brought down in the process, the ref waves play on, and Pereyra tracks back to nullify the threat.
34' Rafique clips Rahul and Blasters have a free-kick from a dangerous position here.
30' Jessssssssel.....he nearly found the back of the net there! He has a crack at goal from distance and gets good dip on it, but it's just not enough. The shot zooms inches above the post.
27' Nervous moments for the Blasters defence. Goalkeeper Albino fails to collect Rafique's grounded cross from the right and the defence scampers to clear the danger.
25' Pilkington and Maghoma have combined really well so far. This might just be the match-winning duo for SC East Bengal.
22' Goal-saving block from Surchandra. Nishu floats in a looping ball into the box and Surchandra, marking the burly Costa, does ever-so-well to get to the ball first and clear it for a corner. Rahul tries to score a first-time volley from the corner but fails to connect.
20' Blasters have more of the ball but haven't been able to find as many chances up front. SC East Bengal has managed four shots on target already and are looking menacing in attack.
16' How close was that!? Maghoma is once again the architect as he releases Pilkington into the box. It's a very tight angle but the Irishman rifles a shot that whizzes just wide of the far post.
14' GOAL TO SC EAST BENGAL! Maghoma creates the chance as he plays a delightful ball for Rafique to sneak into the box. Rafique squares it for Pilkington on the far box but the ball is knocked into the net by Kone. SC East Bengal takes the lead bu virtue of an own goal.
13' Rahul picks up a yellow card for a needless challenge on Haobam.
11' End to end action here as Blasters wins its first corner of the game and it nearly leads to the opener! Costa, one of the tallest players on the pitch, leaps past his marker and makes solid connection but his header sails above the crossbar.
9' What a ferocious strike from Haobam! He hits it really well with his left boot and Albino leaps to his right to keep it out. Pilkington then goes down to Nishu's push in the box but the referee says no penalty. Nishu is a lucky man to get away with that!
5' Promising move for Blasters. Rahul KP's blistering pace sees him win the ball and Hooper is played on goal, but the striker is a tad offiside.
3' We have the first attempt of the game as Steinmann shoots from outside the box, but it take a deflection off Costa and Albino collects it.
1' KICK OFF! Kerala Blasters attacking from right to left.
7:25pm: The players are out in the middle. Kerala Blasters donning its famous yellow jersey, while SC East Bengal wears its white away kit.
7:10pm: Kerala Blasters and SC East Bengal will face each other for the first time in the ISL today. Here are some key stats ahead of the clash:
7pm: In other news, Mumbai City has beaten Hyderabad FC 2-0 to open up a three-point lead at the top of the ISL table . Here's how that game went down:
6:55pm: SC East Bengal coach Robbie Fowler also make four changes to his starting XI. Two changes at the back as Fox makes a comeback the side after an injury and Jairu is introduced. Two changes in attack as well as Jeje and Balwant are replaced by Haobam and Surchandra.
IN: Daniel Fox, Bikash Jairu, Haobam Singh, Surchandra Singh | OUT: Mohamad Irshad, Narayan Das, Jeje Lalpekhlua, CK Vineeth.
6:45pm: Four changes for Kerala Blasters - Costa returns to the XI after serving a suspension while Jessel also slots in defence. Rohit replaces Jeakson and Seityasen returns to the XI.
IN: Costa Nhamoinesu, Jessel Carneiro, Rohit Kumar, Seityasen Singh | OUT: Lalruatthara, Prashant K, Jeakson Singh, Jordan Murray
6:30pm: Team news
Kerala Blasters XI (4-3-3)
Albino Gomes (GK), Bakary Kone, Nishu Kumar, Seityasen Singh, Rohit Kumar, Facundo Pereyra, Jessel Carneiro, Rahul KP, Vicente Gomez, Costa Nhamoinesu, Gary Hooper.
SC East Bengal XI (4-3-3)
Debjit Majumder (GK), Scott Neville, Daniel Fox, Matti Steinmann, Mohammed Rafique, Jacques Maghoma, Anthony Pilkington, Bikash Jairu, Sehnaj Singh, Surchandra Singh, Haobam Singh.
6:15pm: Blasters, like last season, has suffered multiple setbacks in the form of injuries. The side's star midfielder Sergio Cidoncha has been ruled out for the remainder of ISL 2020-21 after he suffered an ankle injury and he has since returned to Spain. Sahal Abdul Samad, another key player in midfield, has also struggled with injuries and has only played one game so far this season.
However, captain Costa Nhamoinesu will return to the side after missing the previous game due to suspension.
For SC East Bengal, Eugeneson Lyngdoh is likely to return to the starting line up after his one-match suspension while Aaron Amadi-Holloway, who came on as a substitute in the last game, could also get more gametime.
6pm: Here's how we think the two sides could line up today
Kerala Blasters Predicted XI (4-3-3)
Albino Gomes, Nishu Kumar, Costa Nhamoinesu, Bakary Kone, Prasanth Karuthadathkuni, Rahul KP, Vicente Gomez, Rohit Kumar, Seityasen Singh, Facundo Pereyra, Gary Hooper.
SC East Bengal Predicted XI (4-4-2)
Debjit Majumder, Scott Neville, Mohamed Irshad, Narayan Das, Sehnaj Singh, Matti Steinmann, Jacques Maghoma, Mohammed Rafique, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Anthony Pilkington, Jeje Lalpekhlua.
5:35pm: Preview - Kerala Blasters to meet fellow-struggler East Bengal
Five games without a win and one of the poorest starts in the last few seasons.
When Kerala Blasters take on fellow-struggler SC East Bengal in the Indian Super League at Bambolin's GMC Stadium on Sunday, they will be hoping that things change for the better.
At least on paper, the match – the sixth for both – should offer a nice opportunity for the Blasters. ISL newcomer East Bengal, after four losses and a draw, is at the bottom of the 11-team table with just one point while the Blasters is in the ninth rung with two points.
The Blasters head coach Kibu Vicuna said since his team and East Bengal are in a similar situation, the match should be an interesting one.
“Every match is a new challenge. Now, we will be playing East Bengal and we are in a similar situation. Both teams want to get their three points tomorrow. They are very important for us. We are training well, preparing as well as possible,” said the Spaniard.
“We have confidence in the team and the players and, hopefully, we will play a good match. We played against East Bengal in the pre-season. I watched their first five games, they are playing three central defenders. When the results are not good you try to change, they are experimenting. They have good foreign players.”
The Blasters have a huge fan following but Vicuna did not think that the pressure of expectation was pulling the team down.
“In football, it always happens like that. When you don't have good results, you are slowly losing confidence but the best medicine is to get a good result. Then you get your confidence back, you have confidence in the way you are training.
“It happens in all the leagues, what we have to do is to keep up the fighting spirit to change the situation. Train harder and better and then, hopefully, the results will come.”
Vicuna felt that the team has to improve the defence.
“We have to improve our defensive part and concede lesser goals because we conceded many in the last game (against Bengaluru FC). We have to defend better and also improve our offensive play.”
He said that the young and promising Sahal Abdul Samad was not fully fit and that was the reason why he was missing from the action.
“Sahal is a very good player, one of the most talented players. Am sure he is going to play very good. He has some physical problems that's why he is not playing but he will be helping us in the next games.”
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The Indian Super League (ISL 2020-21) marks the return of major league competition in India after the nationwide lockdown to prevent the COVID-19 outbreak was first imposed in March.
The seventh edition of the ISL got underway inside a bio-bubble in Goa on November 20.
The tournament, spanning over four months, will see 11 teams play each other in a league and playoff format across three venues. Following the inclusion of SC East Bengal, this season will feature 115 games, up from 95 last season.
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