Kochi: Kerala Blasters missed a crucial second-half penalty kick and had to settle for a 1-1 draw against rivals Chennaiyin FC in the Hero Indian Super League clash in Kochi on Saturday.
Chennaiyin FC had taken the lead through Elano Blumer’s penalty in the 34th minute and Chris Dagnall drew level for the hosts 15 seconds after play restarted in the second session. Kerala Blasters won a penalty in the 52nd minute but Josue Prieto’s low attempt was kept away by Chennaiyin FC goalkeeper Karanjit Singh.
Chennaiyin FC surged ahead with only their second shot on target in the first session. The goal came through the boots of Elano from a penalty after Sandesh Jhingan brought down Stiven Mendoza inside the box, even though the Colombian striker had no chance of reaching the cross. Elano does not make mistakes from the spot and the Brazilian made no mistake by sending Kerala Blasters goalkeeper Stephen Bywater the wrong way.
Kerala Blasters had to wait till the second session to draw level. In fact, they took 15 seconds in the second session to score the equalizer when Dagnall rushed ahead of his marker to head a cross from Saumik Dey.
The hosts had plenty of chances to kill the game as a contest particularly after they had restored parity.
Two of their chances came from free-kicks with the 61st minute attempt the closest they came to taking the lead for the first time. A free-kick from Josue saw Dagnall head the ball but goalkeeper Karanjit did exceptionally well to palm the ball away. The ball, though, did not go too far and Jhingan, who was nearby, saw his resultant attempt slightly off the target.
Another chance was missed by Mohammad Rafi who headed wide a Peter Ramage cross from the left.
There was no better chance than the penalty in the 51st minute. Ramage was adjudged to have been brought down by Mailson Alves inside the danger zone and the referee quickly pointed to the spot. Josue stepped up to take the penalty but Karanjit guessed correctly and saved the attempt by diving full-length to his left.
At the other end, Elano got closest to goal with a curling effort that Bywater did well to keep away.
Kerala Blasters had to change their strategy for the last 15 minutes after Bruno Perone was sent off for a challenge on Mendoza.
Chennaiyin FC tried to push more men forward and pressurise the rival defence but Kerala Blasters gave little away.