ISL: Kerala inch closer to semifinals with 3-1 win over Mumbai | Football News – Times of India
An opener from Sahal Abdul Samad and a double from Spanish attacker Alvaro Vazquez sunk Mumbai in the penultimate league fixture with Blasters now having their destiny in their own hands. In fact, Blasters will qualify for the playoffs without even kicking a ball if Mumbai fail to get all three points against Hyderabad FC on Saturday.
Ivan Vukomanvoic’s men have 33 points from 19 points and lead Mumbai by two points, meaning that even if Mumbai win their final league fixture, Blasters will just need a draw to progress when they face lowly FC Goa the following day.
Sandeep Singh deputised for the suspended Harmanjot Khabra at right full-back position for Blasters while Sahal returned to the playing XI with Vincy Baretto making way. Mumbai head coach Des Buckingham brought in the experienced Mandar Rao Desai as left-back to replace Vignesh Dakshinamurthy.
Mumbai’s appeals for an early penalty were waved away by the referee after Brad Inman was caught on the face by a high foot from Puitea in the seventh minute. Blasters full-back Sandeep found himself in promising positions twice within the first quarter but failed to test the Mumbai goalkeeper on both occasions.
Adrian Luna once again caught out the Mumbai defence in the 19th minute, but they cleared their lines only as far as Sahal some 35 yards from the goal. The Kerala attacker sidestepped one defender, then another and raced towards the goal before finding the net with a low drive from the edge of the box.
The Islanders were incensed when the referee awarded a penalty at the other end just before the half-time break after Vazquez was tripped by Sengalese defender Mourtada Fall. Rubbing salt on their wound, the Spaniard converted past Mohammad Nawaz to go two goals clear.
Blasters did not let up after the restart with Luna brushing the crossbar with a shot from the distance three minutes in. Mumbai came close to reducing the deficit through Fall, but they fell into deeper trouble at the hour mark when they gifted Vazquez his second.
Nawaz made a mess of a backpass played to him by Fall and his miscue fell kindly to Vazquez who had an open goal to aim at. Even though Diego Mauricio won and converted a penalty in the 71st minute, Blasters negotiated the final 20 minutes with relative ease to secure the 3-1 win.
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