Australian great Tim Cahill opened his goal account in the Indian Super League 2018-19 and Jamshedpur FC scored two before the breather.
Yet, that wasn’t enough for the host as Kerala Blasters FC struck back in the second half for an entertaining 2-2 draw at the JRD Tata Sports Complex here on Monday. It was all Jamshedpur in the first half as star forward Cahill (3’) and Michael Soosairaj (31’) put it two goals ahead. However, a spirited comeback from the visitor saw Slavisla Stojanovic (71’) and CK Vineeth (85’) restore parity and claim a share of the spoils.
Jamshedpur FC has now played four successive draws while Kerala itself has drawn three matches. Both teams are yet to taste defeat. The home team got off to a perfect start with a goal as early as the third minute from a corner kick. Sergio Cidoncha’s delivery was headed in by a diving Cahill to register his first ISL goal.
High on confidence after the early goal, Jamshedpur assumed control of the match and was able to string passes almost at will. Kerala struggled to impose itself and Soosairaj was seeing a lot of the ball on the left wing. He cut in and sent a shot over in the 20th minute, but made amends 10 minutes later. A throw-in from the left fell to Soosairaj inside the penalty box and the Tamil Nadu-based winger curled a delightful strike into the far bottom corner to send the home crowd into raptures.
Soosairaj kept troubling the Kerala defence as the half wore on and on one occasion saw a wonderful cross headed wide by Cidoncha. David James’s team came out with intent after the break and had a chance to get back into the match when Stojanovic was brought down clumsily by Sanjay Balmuchu inside the penalty box. However, the Serbian striker’s ensuing spot-kick was saved by Subrata Paul.
Despite the setback, the ‘Men in Yellow’ kept pressing forward and finally had some joy in the 71st minute. Two second half substitutes combined as Sahal Abdul Samad found Seiminlen Doungel on the left wing. The youngster’s cross was emphatically turned in by a stunning left-footed volley from Stojanovic. Doungel’s impact on the match was telling and the winger went on to fashion Kerala’s second goal with just five minutes left in regulation time. He surged to the byline before cutting a pass back which Vineeth swept in, much to the chagrin of the home faithful.