ISL 2018-19: Poplatnik's brace helps Kerala down Chennaiyin

Kerala Blasters climbed up to eighth in the Indian Super League table with a 3-0 win over Chennaiyin FC.

Matej Poplatnik scored twice to keep Kerala Blasters above Chennayin FC in the ISL table.   -  ISL Media

Kerala Blasters FC notched only its second win of the Indian Super League season after a comprehensive 3-0 win over rival Chennaiyin FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium here on Friday.

Matej Poplatnik scored a brace (23', 55') to put Kerala Blasters in the driving seat and young midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad finished things off in the 71st minute to score his first ever ISL goal and end his team’s 14-game winless run.

On the other hand, Chennaiyin saw its nightmare season continue with a 12th loss. The champion is rooted to the bottom spot with eight points from 16 games, while Kerala has climbed to the eighth spot.

The visitor never really got going and was on the backfoot right from the start. Chennaiyin custodian Karanjit Singh was called into action twice early in the game as Kerala dominated.

Slavisa Stojanovic’s shot from the edge of the box was saved by Karanjit and he had to be alert to block the follow-up effort from Poplatnik as well. Kerala made the early dominance count by taking the lead in the 23rd minute.

Courage Pekuson’s low cross into the box could only be deflected towards Poplatnik by Karanjit and the striker headed home into an empty net. John Gregory’s side could not gain a foothold into the match and looked woefully out of rhythm.

As the half wore on, Kerala could have doubled its lead as Karanjit was forced into two fine saves from Pekuson and Seiminlen Doungel’s efforts.

Read: As it happened

The story remained pretty much the same in the second half as well and the second goal came 10 minutes later. Len Doungel initiated a quick counter-attack and fed Sahal down the right wing. The midfielder squared a pass into the box which was not dealt with by the Chennaiyin defenders.

Sahal Abdul Samad's 71st minute strike killed off the tie against Chennaiyin FC.   -  ISL Media

 

Stojanovic got to it and found Poplatnik who lashed a shot home. That goal was a blow Chennaiyin FC never recovered from.

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It did not help that Christopher Herd, who was injured in the build-up to Kerala’s goal, had to be substituted. The home team continued to call the shots and soon got the third in the 71st minute. Again, Samad started the attack with a run from inside his own half. The Chenanaiyin defenders could not clear the ball after Samad’s attempted one-two with Doungel did not come off.

Sahal carried on his run to latch on to the loose ball and lift a finish over the onrushing Karanjit. Chennaiyin did push forward a bit to notch a consolation goal but Kerala saw them off with consummate ease.