Kerala Blasters made a spectacular comeback with two second-half goals to hold host Jamshedpur FC (JFC) 2-2 in a finely contested encounter in the Indian Super League here at JRD Tata Sports Complex on Monday.
First half goals from Tim Cahill and Michael Soosairaj gave Jamshedpur a comfortable 2-0 lead but two second half goals in 15 minutes from Slavisa Stojanovic and C. K. Vineeth ensured both teams shared the spoils.
The host made a flying start when prodigal striker Cahill find the back of the Blasters net with a stunning diving header in the third minute. Cahill got past his marker Lalruatthara and scored his debut ISL goal when he converted Sergio Cidoncha's curling corner-kick. With the host putting a good vigil at the back under the charge of the Spaniard Jose Arroyo (Tiri), the visitor could not really apply itself to plot the equaliser. A long period of lull followed as Jamshedpur tried to protect its lead, while the the Blasterss push for the equaliser lacked incisiveness.
As Ferrando urged his boys to take the advantage of its dominance, Michael Soosairaj doubled Jamshedpur's advantage with a spectacular effort. The 23-year-old import from Chennai City FC produced a world-class finish when he curled the ball past the Blasters’ goalkeeper Naveen Kumar to drive the 20,000 plus fans into wild celebrations.
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With head coach David James bringing in a couple of changes, the Blasters put a better display after the break. Matej Poplatnik saw his 51st minute effort sailing inches over. He had beaten Subrata Paul but the ball narrowly missed the target. Jamshedpur defender Sanjay Balmuchu made the cardinal error of brining down Slavisa Stojanovic inside the box but goalkeeper Paul anticipated the Serbian’s attempt from the spot and produced a stunning diving save to deny him.
The virtually ineffective left flank − where Halicharan Narzary failed to perform − was brought alive by substitute Seimenlen Doungel, who provided the important assist three minutes following his introduction in the 68th minute to get Blasters back in the game. Doungel set up Stojanovic with a delicious cross from the left, and the Serbian striker fired a sharp left-footed volley to beat Paul this time.
Doungel fashioned the equaliser in the 86th minute as he made another darting run through the left, beat Jamshedpur right-back Yumnam Raju and laid the ball to set up C. K. Vineeth, who found the back of the net and wheeled away in celebration. Stojanovic had a chance to seal the tie in the dying stages of the match but he failed to find the target and both teams claimed a point each.
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