A 10-men NorthEast United FC held Kerala Blasters to a goalless draw in the Indian Super League match at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Kochi on Friday.
The draw ended a season of woes for the host which failed to take advantage of its numerical superiority against NorthEast. The draw sees Kerala Blasters end its campaign in ninth position, with 15 points, while the Highlanders finish the season at fourth, with 30 points.
While it was a familiar story of missed chances for Kerala Blasters, the big moment of the match came in the 23rd minute when NorthEast United was reduced to 10 men after defender Gurwinder Singh was sent off by for a foul on Matej Poplatnik.
A quick counterattack following a cleared corner from the Kerala Blasters saw Poplatnik free on the right but the striker was chased by Gurwinder who tripped him at the edge of the box.
With the numerical advantage, Kerala Blasters had the better of the chances in the first half with the tireless Courage Pekuson creating most of them. Early in the half he set up a chance for Slavisa Stojanovic but the Serbian striker’s effort went wide.
In the 21st minute, Seiminlen Doungel dodged his marker and sent a dangerous cross which was almost turned in by Slavisa Stojanovic.
The best chance for the Blasters came in the 33rd minute when Courage Pekuson muscled his way into the box and his effort beat a diving Pawan Kumar but bounced off the post.
Kerala Blasters had another chance to go ahead in the 44th minute when Keziron Kizito followed up a run from the midfield with a defence-splitting pass that sent Seiminlen Doungel clear on the right flank. The striker got into the box but his shot was blocked by the keeper who was quick to come off his line.
NorthEast earned its first chance early in the second half when Panagiotis Triadis sent a lovely cross to Fanai Lalrempuia but the midfielder shot straight at goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh.
In the 69th minute, Kerala Blasters had another chance to go ahead as Peksuson fed Stojanovic, whose shot was parried by Pawan Kumar onto the crossbar.
NorthEast played the percentage game thereafter holding possession and denied space to Kerala Blasters strikers as the match drifted to a draw.
The result: Kerala Blasters 0-0 NorthEast United FC.
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