KOCHI: Kerala Blasters came back from behind twice, but even that wasn’t enough as a very late goal from Arata Izumi, his second of the night, condemned them to a 3-2 defeat to Atletico de Kolkata at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium on Tuesday.
N Mohanraj had put the visitors ahead in the 29th minute, but Blasters’ substitute forward Antonio German converted from the spot to draw level before half-time. However, it was Kolkata’s second-half substitute Izumi who drew last blood scoring on either side of German’s second strike late into the match to put the reigning champions’ season back on track.
Though coming from a morale-boosting 2-0 victory over FC Pune City, Kerala never really got going until left back Mohanraj put Atletico ahead when he escaped the attention of Blasters defenders and headed in from a well-worked cross from the right by Spanish mideo Jaime Gavilan.
Hosts seemed to be in further troubles when an injured Sanchez Watt had to be withdrawn five minutes later to be replaced by compatriot German, who could have made an instant impact. The 23-year-old did well to chest down a cross from Chris Dagnall but slashed his shot across with the goal at his mercy.
However, he atoned for the mistake as he confidently converted from the spot two minutes later. Josue Currais, running onto a Dagnall through pass, was clipped inside the box by Kolkata defender Denzil Franco forcing the Chinese official Tan Hai to point to the spot.
Blasters continued to threaten in the second session and piled the pressure on ATK as German worked custodian Amrinder Singh in the 54th minute, and two minutes later, Dagnall had a grounded shot missing the target by inches.
Iain Hume, returning to his old stomping grounds this time as an opposition player, displayed why he is so beloved in this part of the country as he made the Blasters defenders look like schoolboys and fired a shot in the 83rd minute only to be denied by the right post.
The same post would assist Kolkata to go ahead in the very next minute when a cross from Arata struck its inside and went in to hand them a lead late into the game. But that was far from the last action of the match as Blasters made an instant reaction with German’s second sending the 60,251 in the stands to raptures.
A draw would have been a deserved result for the night, but Arata, returning from an injury, found his brace as he tapped in a cross from South African midfielder Sameehq Doutie in the second of the three minutes added on to the 90 minutes.
Suffering their fifth defeat of the season, Blasters are still stuck at the final spot in the league standings with eight points from nine matches while Atletico are back in the top four with 13 points. Kerala will make a long trip to Guwahati where they will face NorthEast United FC on November 15.
Northeast look for Double
Chennai: Having lost two of their three home matches, Chennaiyin FC face NorthEast United FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Wednesday. Both sides find themselves with 10 points after eight matches and need points to improve their standing. NorthEast, who won this fixture at home, are looking to do the double over Chennaiyin.
“We are focusing on our strength and to execute our plans,” said NorthEast coach Cesar Farias who will rely on Simao Sabrosa and Nicolas Velez to hit the top gear.