Kerala Blasters FC extended their unbeaten run to seven games and moved into third place after a late Sandeep Singh goal gave them a 1-0 victory over Odisha FC in the Indian Super League on Monday.
It was a two-half game for the Blasters, who failed to find their rhythm in the first half but bounced back in the second half, with Sandeep Singh scoring the winning goal in the 86th minute.
The hosts made one change with left-back Jessel Carneiro replacing Nishu Kumar in the starting eleven. The visitors made a few changes as Nandhakumar Sekar returned to the left after serving his suspension, while Victor Rodriguez came in to make his first start of the season – Jerry Mawihmingthanga and Diego Mauricio fell to the bench.
KBFC almost gave in in the third minute when Ivan Kaliuzhnyi’s header from inside the box hit Raynier Fernandes directly on the edge of the box. The midfielder flew one and saw it come off the crossbar before a tightly marked Adrian Luna fired the rebound high.
The first half ended goalless, but it was a tough period. Five yellow cards fell before the break, of which the Blasters picked up four. At half-time, Odisha FC had eight tries, three of which were on target, while the hosts managed just one wayward shot from Carneiro.
Odisha FC’s defense faced a barrage of attacks from the Blasters as the game entered its final quarter. In the 71st minute, a pass from Carlos Delgado allowed Sahal Abdul Samad to break forward.
The winger lobbed the ball into the path of Nihal Sudeesh, but he was inches away from the substitute who had just come on.
Seven minutes before the end, Carneiro unleashed a fierce hit on the near post after a short free kick.
The ball hit the post and flicked over the goal before reaching Marko Leskovic.
The defender decided to cross rather than shoot at the empty goal and eventually gave possession away to the Juggernauts.
Four minutes from time, the constant pressure from Kerala Blasters paid off as they got their noses out. Substitute Bryce Miranda curled a cross from the left into the penalty area.
Amrinder Singh came out to hit him but missed the ball as it bounced and fell to Sandeep who headed it into an empty net.