Kochi, Ten-man FC Goa denied Kerala Blasters FC their second win in the Indian Super League after an injury-time strike by Lenny Rodrigues ensured a dramatic 2-2 draw at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Sunday.
Sergio Cidoncha’s (2′) early goal helped the hosts set the tempo, but Mourtada Fall (41′), who was sent off for a last-man tackle in the second-half, pulled Goa level before the break. Raphael Messi Bouli (59′) regained the lead for Kerala. However, a late goal from Lenny (90+3′) struck daggers into the hearts of an expectant home crowd.
Eelco Schattorie’s injury-hit Kerala Blasters are now winless since the opening game against ATK and are eighth in the table with five points. The Gaurs are fourth on the table with nine points.
The hosts got off to a terrific start by taking the lead in the second minute. A long throw-in from the left by Raju Gaikwad hit Mourtada Fall who failed to clear the danger. The ball fell to Sergio Cidoncha whose first-time strike grazed the goalkeeper’s gloves before rolling into the net.
Goa struggled to up the ante as Kerala’s energetic midfield denied their counterparts time and space to pick out their passes. Goa’s Brandon Fernandes escaped his marker’s attention in the 18th minute, but his through ball was too heavy for an overlapping Mandar Rao Dessai.
Chances were few and far between as the game was mostly played in the midfield. After struggling to create chances for most of the half, Sergio Lobera’s side found a way back into the game just before the break with a set-piece. An Edu Bedia free-kick was thwarted away by the Kerala defence, but only as far as Jackichand Singh whose pin-point cross from the right was headed in with aplomb by Fall.
Goa were dealt a hammer blow soon after the restart when Fall was sent off for a last-man challenge on Ogbeche. The player advantage helped Kerala take control of the game and they doubled their lead soon.
Prashanth Karuthadathkuni dribbled forward down the left flank and slid a low pass across the face of the goal for Bouli, who guided the ball into the back of the net.
With the game looking done and dusted in favour of the home side, Goa came up with a late equaliser at the death. Manvir Singh latched on to a pass from the right, dropped his shoulder to skip past his marker and forced a save from goalkeeper T.P. Rehenesh. But the goalkeeper pushed the ball into the path of Lenny who slotted home from close range.