Kerala Blasters held Chennaiyin FC to a goalless draw, thanks to an excellent penalty save from Albino Gomes at the latter’s designated home ground of Bambolim.
Chennaiyin named an unchanged side from their opening win against Jamshedpur FC, and while they continued to look sharp moving forward, they lacked the clinical edge they displayed last time around. Meanwhile, Kerala made three changes with debutant Denechandra Meitei one of them. Star playmaker Sahal Abdul Samad was in the squad this time but did not make it onto the pitch.
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In the first half, neither side managed to create many clear-cut opportunities. Chennaiyin were the dominant side but weren’t clinical in the final third.
Kerala goalkeeper Albino Gomes was called into action early on, in the third minute, saving a free kick from Rafael Crivellaro. A blunder from Gomes almost handed Csaba Laszlo’s side the lead, after he fumbled while trying to clear the ball inside the 18-yard box, and his centre back Bakary Kone kept his calm to intercept and clear.
At the other end, Vishal Kaith had one good save to make in that first forty-five, after Rohit Kumar drove a powerful shot on goal from nigh on thirty yards out. It was, though, the only time Kerala hit a shot on target in the first half.
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Laszlo, though, had more to worry about in the opening period than Chennaiyin’s lacklusrtre finishing after left back Lalchhuanmawia Fanai went down injured after a tackle, and had to be replaced by Jerry Lalrinzuala.
Chennaiyin remained on the front foot in the second half, forcing Gomes into a couple of good saves, including after a penalty box melee caused by substitute Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev’s pinpoint free-kick delivery.
The biggest talking point of the match came in the 74th minute, when Crivellaro was brought down by Sergio Cidoncha in the box. Jakub Sylvestr stepped up to take the spot-kick but was denied by Gomes, who guessed right and pulled off a fantastic save low to his left. Chennaiyin pushed hard for a winner but Kerala saw the game out to secure a hard-fought point.
Chennaiyin are currently in 3rd with 4 points in 2, while Kerala Blasters are 7th having taken just 2 points in their opening three matches.